Do you strain to hear someone in a one-on-one conversation? Is it difficult to follow dialogue involving two or more people? Do others tell you that your television or radio is too loud? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you could be experiencing hearing loss. Whether it’s the first time you’re noticing your hearing is diminishing or if you’ve long suspected the problem, like any medical condition, the sooner you seek treatment the better. To help provide clarity for your own hearing health, we’ve compiled the Top 10 signs of hearing loss:
- You get confused or have difficulty focusing in noisy areas such as restaurants, malls, meetings, etc. One of the most common complaints of all individuals with hearing loss is difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments. It’s not so much that you can’t hear sound, rather you can’t understand what’s being said.
- You rely more on reading lips or watching people’s faces as they talk. Sometimes, when we experience a medical condition, we can either consciously or subconsciously adjust the way we go about our day. Consider those who have trouble seeing — they may squint their eyes to see clearly, or get closer to whatever object it is they’re trying to distinguish. The same goes for hearing loss; individuals often compensate for their inability to hear by trying to focus on the lips or faces of whomever they are speaking with, instead of focusing on the conversation at hand.
- You have trouble hearing women’s and children’s voices. Typically, hearing loss varies across frequency ranges and the higher the frequency, the higher the pitch. With age, we are more likely to experience hearing loss in higher frequencies. Women’s and children’s voices are most commonly known for their high pitches (or frequency). Because of this, it’s often more difficult to hear what’s being said. Think about speaking with a male who has a deep, rumbling voice. Hearing him usually is not difficult, but when a female or child speaks with their distinctively soft, high-pitched tone, hearing isn’t as easy.
- Avoiding social situations is a common behavior of people experiencing hearing loss. Maybe you misunderstand people frequently, and as a result, your friends and family think you aren’t listening or engaging in a conversation. However, constantly straining to hear and follow conversation is emotionally draining, and it is understandable to feel frustrated because communication is an integral part of all our relationships. But you shouldn’t feel you must avoid social situations because you have difficulty hearing, and receiving treatment will help ensure you can continue experiencing the moments that mean the most.
- When common sounds seem muffled, or people seem to mumble frequently, your hearing has likely diminished. While there are a variety of potential causes (e.g., a buildup of earwax or an ear infection), the tell-tale sign of conductivehearing loss is muffled sound. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there’s an obstruction or damage to the outer or middle ear, which prevents sound from traveling to the eardrum and to the tiny bones in the inner ear—thus affecting the ability to hear the loudness of sounds.
- You experience a ringing sensation in the ears. We have all most likely experienced this, but if this happens to you regularly, you could have Tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition experienced by nearly 50 million Americans, and is caused by a malfunctionin the auditory system — meaning something in your hearing system has gone wrong. From buzzing to whistling, hissing to ringing, clicking to swishing, the volume and sound of Tinnitus can change, but it is almost always accompanied by some form of hearing loss.
- If you’ve been exposed to loud sounds over a long period of time, or even a single exposure to an explosive noise, you are very susceptible to experiencing hearing loss. Being exposed to everyday sounds such as noisy work environments or loud music often ties back to hearing loss diagnoses later in life. The relationship between noise and hearing loss is very strong and noise-induced hearing loss may happen gradually or suddenly.
- Hearing loss runs in your family. Many medical conditions are hereditary and according to the National Hearing Test, if you have family members who’ve experienced hearing loss later in life, you may have a genetic predisposition to it.
- You have diabetes, circulatory or thyroid conditions. Studies have shown that healthy cardiovascular systems aid in healthy auditory systems — blood flows throughout the body, including to our ears. So, if you have a condition such as diabetes, circulatory or thyroid dysfunction where normal blood flow is affected, your hearing is likely to be affected, too.
- You take medications that affect your hearing. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are more than 200 known ototoxic (harmful to the ear) medications available both by prescription and over-the-counter. They’re used to treat serious infections, cancer or heart problems, but can also have serious adverse effects on your hearing. Ototoxic drugs can damage sensory cells in the inner ear used in hearing and balance. And although there is sometimes little choice for taking these medications, it’s important to discuss the potential for hearing damage with your doctor.
On average, it takes people seven years from the time they first think they have hearing loss to the time they seek treatment. However, hearing loss is notorious for worsening over time. And while it’s true that even people with normal hearing can have trouble understanding or hearing in certain environments, if you’ve experienced or are experiencing any of the signs above, don’t wait. Schedule a consultation so that we can evaluate your condition and provide the best options available. Don’t wait to treat your hearing, get on the road to better hearing today!