If you have hearing loss, you might imagine it would be obvious, right?
Actually, that’s exactly the issue; most people think it would. Unfortunately, although severe or abrupt hearing loss is easy to detect, mild to moderate progressive hearing loss can be far too subtle to notice. That’s the reason why, on average, people will wait five years or longer from the onset of symptoms to seek help.
Picture hearing loss as a gradual leak in a tire. It’s challenging to observe the day-to-day changes, and it’s only when the tire goes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you choose to act.
Unfortunately, while tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be to a certain extent recovered, but the earlier you treat your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll recover.
So how can you discover the symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Following are several of the hidden signs that indicate you should consider a hearing test.
1. Trouble hearing certain sounds
Commonly people believe that hearing loss affects all types of sounds. Therefore, if you can hear some sounds normally, you assume you can hear all sounds normally.
Don’t get caught into this mode of thinking. The fact is that hearing loss predominantly affects higher-frequency sounds. You may discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for instance, due to the higher pitch of their voices.
This may lead you to think that the people you can’t hear are mumbling, when in fact, you have high-frequency hearing loss.
2. Depending on context to understand
Somebody is speaking from behind you and you can’t comprehend what they’re saying unless you turn around. You are forced to rely on body language, and potentially lip reading, for extra information to fill in the blanks.
Speech consists of an assortment of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the low frequencies. The problem for people 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 comparable to reading a sentence with missing letters. Normally, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may discover yourself replying inappropriately or requesting people to repeat themselves constantly. You may also have difficulty hearing on the phone.
3. Difficulty hearing in noisy surroundings
With mild hearing loss, you can normally decode what others are saying, albeit with lots of effort. Once background noise is introduced, however, the task usually becomes overwhelming.
You might find that it’s overwhelming to hear in group settings or in noisy environments like at restaurants or parties. The contending sounds and background noise are muffling your already compromised hearing, making it exceedingly difficult to concentrate on any single source of sound.
4. Mental Exhaustion
Finally, you may observe that you’re more exhausted than normal after work or after engagement in group settings. For individuals with hearing loss, the constant battle to hear, together with the effort to comprehend incomplete sounds, can produce extreme exhaustion, which is a non-obvious symptom of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is gradual and becomes more difficult to treat the longer you wait. If you have any of these symptoms, even if they’re only minor, we strongly recommend arranging a hearing test. By taking action sooner, you can preserve your hearing and stay connected to your family and friends.