What are common signs of hearing loss?
Hearing loss is more common than you might think. Unfortunately, many people suffer from hearing loss and aren’t even aware they have a problem. So, what are the common signs of hearing loss and why don’t people realise they have a hearing problem?
For most people hearing loss is a gradual process especially when it’s age-related. Nearly one in three people aged 65 experiences a gradual decline in hearing sensitivity. Between the ages of 65 and 75 this increases to one in two people experiencing hearing loss. Because this type of hearing loss (presbycusis) is so gradual many people miss the signs or don’t realise just how much it’s affecting their daily life.
Common signs of hearing loss may include:
- Problems following conversations
- Asking people to repeat themselves frequently
- Finding noisy settings disturbing
- Noise (tinnitus) in your ears
- Turning the TV volume up too high
Some people might recognise those common signs of hearing loss in others but refuse to accept they also have a problem. They are simply unable to come to terms with their hearing loss. For other people hearing loss might be sudden and undeniable. The symptoms for sudden hearing loss are usually much clearer and we’ll talk about those too.
Easy-to-fix problems such as a buildup of earwax may also cause some of the common signs of hearing loss. If you think you might have hearing loss then you should visit an experienced audiologist who can test your hearing and recommend the best treatment.
Leaving your hearing loss untreated will only make the problem worse and can also lead to other health issues.
What then are the common symptoms of hearing loss?
Conversations are difficult to follow
Hearing loss may make conversations difficult to follow. This may be due to a number of factors including:
- Background noise crowding out speech sounds
- Difficulty locating the speaker in a group
- High frequency hearing loss making consonants especially hard to understand
If you’re struggling with conversation there are a number of things people can do to make conversation easier for you.
People sound like they’re mumbling
Many people with hearing loss complain that people mumble more than they used to or that noises seem to sound muffled. This is a common symptom of hearing loss and is particularly noticeable when your hearing loss affects the upper frequencies.
Higher frequency sounds help you distinguish consonants and vowel sounds and if you are struggling to hear them you may think that everyone is mumbling. This is why some people with hearing loss find children’s and female voices harder to hear.
Interestingly, there is a rare condition called ‘reverse slope hearing loss’ that may prevent people from hearing male voices and other low-pitched sounds.
What did you say?
One of the most common signs that you may have hearing loss is when you frequently ask people to repeat themselves. Hearing loss often affects those frequencies that represent speech sounds. You may find that you often mishear the softer consonants such as S and F, B and V or P.
If, for example, you hear the word ‘vest, when someone says ‘best’ then it could be sign you have some hearing loss. Constantly asking someone to repeat themselves can be both frustrating and exhausting for you as well as the other speaker.
Background noise makes me confused
Another common sign of hearing loss is that background noise can leave you feeling confused or bewildered. Perhaps you struggle to work out where the noises are coming from or maybe you simply can’t hear conversations so well in the restaurant.
Ironically, people with hearing loss may find some background noises extremely unpleasant and even painful. For some people the background noise can become overwhelming and can lead to a withdrawal from many of their former social activities. But there is help so make sure you see your audiologist.
Is that tinnitus or a cricket?
Tinnitus–those irritating whistles, clicks, and noises in your ears can really get you down. Tinnitus is commonly associated with hearing loss. Tinnitus doesn’t affect everyone with hearing loss but if you do suffer from tinnitus it can have a major impact on the quality of your life.
Turning the TV volume up too high
Many people with hearing loss turn their TV or radio up to levels that are uncomfortable for others in the room. If your family are always complaining about how loud it is, turning the volume down or simply leaving the room then you need to think about having your hearing tested.
See your House of Hearing audiologist and have your hearing checked out. The good news is that thanks to modern technology, hearing aids now offer full connectivity with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth equipped devices. That means you can tune in directly to the TV, stereo or phone and hear comfortably without disturbing anyone else.
Signs in young children
Healthy hearing is vital for babies and young children and plays a critical role in language and social skills development. It’s really important to identify any hearing problems in your children as soon as possible.
- Slow to respond or turn towards noises
- Not smiling when spoken to
- Not pointing at objects you name
- Speech problems
- Complaints about earaches
- Academic problems
There is help for children with hearing problems and testing even at very young ages before the child can speak will highlight any problems.
Signs of sudden hearing loss
Sudden hearing loss (SSHL) usually occurs only in one ear. It happens quickly (over the course of around 72 hours) and many people notice a popping sound at the onset. Most cases of SSHL involve a significant hearing loss of around 30dB.
There are a number of things that may cause sudden hearing loss but whatever the cause you need to get urgent treatment; you may save your hearing.