Watching for Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Watching for Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Kevin Garnett, B.S. Hearing Loss, Signs & Symptoms

Kevin Garnett, B.S.

With 1 in 5 people having some degree of hearing loss, you or someone you know may be experiencing impaired hearing. Over 48 million people have hearing loss which is the third most common health condition people live with today. Though it is common, hearing loss is still widely undertreated. In fact, only a third of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it. It takes an average of 7 years for people to address their hearing loss symptoms. 

Untreated hearing loss can take a toll on health adn wellness in significant ways. A reduced capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound makes communication difficult. Over time, this can strain relationships, social engagement, work performance, and health. Fortutenaly, there are effective ways hearing loss is treated that alleviates these outcomes and boosts quality of life. Watching for early signs and intervening early can help you protect your hearing health. To identify hearing loss, ask yourself the following questions: 

Do you struggle to keep up with conversations?

Difficulty following conversations is an early sign of hearing loss. This can look many different ways including: missing words or parts of a conversation, feeling confused during a conversation, finding yourself asking others to repeat what they said or to speak louder, and frequently responding with “huh” or “what”. 

Hearing loss reduces a person’s capacity to detect and process speech and sound. This makes it tough to hear so navigating conversations can be especially challenging. You may find yourself lip reading it to help identify individual words or even pretending to hear to simply get through a conversation. Engaging in conversation can be particularly hard in environments with background noise – restaurants, parties, and other social settings. This affects your ability to fully participate in conversations and others may even think you aren’t paying attention. 

Do you hear an unpleasant sound in your ears?

A common symptom that hearing loss produces is tinnitus which is the experience of hearing a sound, in one or both ears, when no external sound is present. This means that only you can hear this sound which is most commonly described as a ringing or buzzing like noise that can be intermittent or more constant. It is estimated that 90% of cases of tinnitus occur with underlying hearing loss. Tinnitus not only makes it tougher to hear but it can prevent people from initiating or maintaining quality sleep, prevent ability to concentrate, contribute to fatigue and grogginess etc. 

Are you arguing about the volume of the TV?

Another sign of hearing loss that may initially seem minor or harmless is arguing with your loved ones about the volume of the TV. You may find yourself constantly increasing the volume settings on the TV or needing it to be louder. This may be too loud for your loved ones so they tell you to turn it down. This is a common experience and this sign should be taken seriously. Seemingly little arguments over something like the volume of the TV can also build up over time and produce strain in relationships. You needing the volume to be higher in order to hear better reveals that you may be dealing with some hearing loss. 

After conversations, do you feel drained?

It is useful to take an inventory of yourself and how you feel after engaging in conversations and social interactions. Do you feel fatigued, drained, exhausted? This is another sign of hearing loss that is caused by the brain having to expend more resources in trying to hear. Hearing loss involves the brain receiving less auditory information and as a result, it works overtime in trying to locate and process the sound in the environment you are in. To put it simply, it takes more work for you to hear and this can lead to fatigue. 

Are you avoiding conversations?

To cope with symptoms and the experience of hearing loss, people often avoid conversations as much as possible. This can look like spending less time with loved ones, skipping out on social gatherings, participating less in activities etc. Social withdrawal is a major sign of hearing loss and not only does this affect relationships adn social connection, but also mental health. Increased isolation can contribute to depressive symptoms. 

If you recognize any of these signs, it is important to have your hearing evaluated by a hearing healthcare specialist. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation!