Diminished hearing rarely happens overnight. If it does, an immediate trip to the nearest A&E department is an absolute must. Gradual hearing decline is perfectly natural but doesn’t mean we have to put up with it.
Even if we don’t want to admit it to ourselves, it is very easy to spot hearing loss in yourself and others. Here, we give you 10 common signs of hearing loss – many of them may sound familiar.
If you are noticing signs of hearing loss, get in touch with us for further information or to book a diagnostic consultation with one of our experts in the south east of England. You can also take our free online hearing test to check your hearing.
Hearing loss signs
1. Do you often have to ask people to repeat themselves when they are talking to you?
It may be occurring more and more regularly and if you have known the person for a long time, it cannot really be blamed on how they speak. More likely, it is a sign of hearing loss.
2. Do you find yourself increasing the volume on the TV or radio to a level that is uncomfortable for others in the room?
This is a sure sign that your ears are not as efficient as those you are watching TV with, and indicates that you may benefit from booking in a hearing test.
3. Does it feel as though other people are mumbling at you and around you?
Poor diction is infuriating but if most people seem to be mumbling, it could be you and your ears that need investigating by a professional.
4. Do you find it difficult to focus on a conversation against a noisy background?
This can happen often when background noise gets to an intolerable level. However, next time you are out in a restaurant or cafe, especially with background noise, look around you and see if other people are able to carry on a conversation. If you are in a group, see if other members of your party are easily conversing with each other.
5. Do you misunderstand questions or requests at home or in the workplace?
This can be infuriating and stressful on a personal level, and consequence of misheard requests or commands can have a huge financial implication on our economy.
6. Do you give illogical answers to questions because you have misheard them?
It is all too easy to save embarrassment and pretend you have heard and do something, only to later find out it was totally wrong. Again, this can be stressful and puts you in a potentially difficult situation.
7. Do you find it difficult to hear if someone is facing away from you when they speak?
Whether an individual has been to lip reading lessons or not, you will have a certain level of ability to lip read a little. Plus, facing somebody allows you to see facial expressions and cues along with body language, all of which helps to knit together your soundscape and speech jigsaw.
8. Do you find yourself ‘filling in the gaps’ when someone is talking to you and missing the end of the sentence?
This is very common and so difficult to avoid. It is in our nature to question things if we are surprised at what we’ve heard, or try and work out what that strange word could have been. Unfortunately, that can mean missing the rest of the sentence and all context of the conversation disappears.
9. Do you find it easier to hear male voices than female voices?
This is the normal process of progression as a person loses the higher frequencies first. This is the same for all of us and another useful pointer to whether you are losing a bit more of your hearing range.
10. Are you starting to avoid social situations so you won’t embarrass yourself or others?
Although this is number 10 in the list, it is a hugely important factor on overall well being. It is only natural to avoid difficult situations, but the more you do it and don’t accept invitations, the less they come and the more isolated you risk being.
This is the quickest route to cognitive decline and actually exacerbates hearing loss due to the increased effort required simply to listen.
What to do if you notice any of these hearing loss signs
The most important thing you can do if any of the above applies to you is to have your ears looked at or hearing checked. It could simply be wax blocking the ears. If you have ear wax removal and the ears are clear, the next step is to have a hearing test.
This procedure is quick and painless and you will have your own unique hearing test known as an audiogram that you can refer to as a benchmark against any future tests. Especially if there is no loss or the loss is too mild to warrant the use of hearing aids. It will give you peace of mind.
Why it’s important not to ignore the signs of hearing loss
Hearing loss can be a symptom of many different ailments and therefore it is important not to dismiss. Even if there is nothing sinister going on, hearing loss deprives the brain of vital information and stimulation.
There are many studies which show that out of the modifiable conditions we have control over, long term, untreated hearing loss as being the largest single contributor to dementia. Professor Lin et al 2011
Hearing naturally declines
An individual’s dynamic range of hearing lessens as each year passes but it is almost imperceptible. We have such a wide range, from 20Hz to 20KHz that losing a few thousand Hertz at the highest frequencies has no real impact on the ability to process most sounds.
We are born with our full complement of hair-like cells responsible for hearing and can actually lose almost two thirds of our dynamic range without it affecting our ability to process speech sounds. That is why it is so important to recognise when our hearing starts to wane.
Hearing loss FAQ
When is hearing loss noticeable?
When any loss occurs in the range from 8KHz downwards, it will definitely impact speech understanding because you will start to miss the very high pitch and soft elements of speech, especially the consonants and sibilants. These are referred to the beginnings, middles and endings of words and affect individuals more on short, single or double syllable words. A long word like ‘Constantinople’ has no other word sounding like it, and therefore it’s easier to guess what it is if we have missed one or two letters.
Are signs of hearing loss different for children?
The signs of hearing loss in children are not any different from adults. The diminished hearing unfortunately has the same results. The causes however, are very different and many childhood diseases simply don’t or rarely occur in adults.
Also the remedy in children can be much easier and more effective because it will not have been left and ignored for a long period of time.
Can I tell if my hearing loss is caused by an injury?
The only way to ascertain the cause of hearing loss, if not by natural wear and tear, is to have a diagnostic evaluation. The hearing test is comprehensive and can reveal a probable cause. It may require further tests to confirm initial findings. The final results will determine which course of action is necessary.
Often nothing needs to be done, just monitored. Sometimes a simple operation can correct the malfunction or hearing aid use is the best solution
What level of hearing loss requires a hearing aid?
Hearing loss can impact some people much more than others and for some, a mild hearing loss is very debilitating. All levels of hearing loss can benefit from tailored amplification and the difference in quality of life can be startling.
Click here to read more in our in-depth guide on hearing loss and hearing aids.
Book a hearing test todayI
If your hearing needs a helping hand, don’t delay. We strongly suggest you call us now – Horsham (01403 218863), Chichester (01243 774536) or Seaford (01323 899655) – to arrange an appointment for a full assessment of your hearing.