If you suffer from hearing loss, you would think it would be obvious, right?
Actually, that’s exactly the issue; most people believe it would. Unfortunately, although severe or sudden hearing loss is easy to detect, mild to moderate progressive hearing loss can be far too subtle to observe. That’s the reason why, on average, people will wait five years or longer from the onset of symptoms to seek help.
Imagine hearing loss as a slow leak in a tire. It’s challenging to perceive the day-to-day changes, and it’s only when the tire becomes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you decide to act.
Regrettably, while tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be to some extent recovered, but the earlier you attend to your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll recover.
So how can you identify the signs and symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Below are some of the hidden signs that indicate you should get a professional hearing exam.
1. Difficulty hearing specific sounds
Oftentimes people assume that hearing loss affects all types of sounds. So, if you can hear some sounds normally, you believe you can hear all sounds normally.
Do not get trapped into this manner of reasoning. The reality is that hearing loss mostly affects higher-frequency sounds. You may observe that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for example, because of the higher pitch.
This may lead you to believe that the people you can’t hear are mumbling, when the fact is, you have high-frequency hearing loss.
2. Depending on context to comprehend speech
Somebody is speaking from behind you and you can’t comprehend what they’re saying until you turn around. You have to rely on body language, and potentially lip reading, for supplementary information used to fill in the blanks.
Speech is comprised of a wide range of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the lower frequencies. The problem for those with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants impart the most meaning yet are the most difficult to hear.
If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is just like reading a sentence with missing letters. More often than not, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may find yourself replying inappropriately or requesting people to repeat themselves constantly. You may also have difficulties hearing on the phone.
3. Difficulty hearing in busy settings
With mild hearing loss, you can normally decode what others are saying, albeit with a lot of effort. Once background noise is introduced, on the other hand, the task often becomes overwhelming.
You might discover that it’s overwhelming to hear in group settings or in loud environments like at restaurants or parties. The contending sounds and background noise are muffling your already compromised hearing, making it highly difficult to focus on any one source of sound.
4. Mental Fatigue
Finally, you may observe that you’re more tired than normal after work or after engagement in group settings. For those with hearing loss, the constant fight to hear, combined with the effort to understand incomplete sounds, can lead to serious exhaustion, which is a non-obvious symptom of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is progressive and becomes more complicated to treat the longer you wait. If you experience any of these symptoms, even if they’re only minor, we strongly suggest scheduling a hearing test. By taking action earlier, you can conserve your hearing and stay connected to your family and friends.