Hearing loss often takes place slowly over time and, as a result, goes unnoticed. With a process this gradual, how do you know if you are experiencing hearing loss? You may not even realize until someone close to you points it out. Take a moment and read through some of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss and ask yourself if any of these apply to you.
- Difficulty understanding in crowded situations
Settings with significant background noise can easily create problems for people with hearing loss. Restaurants, concerts, and sporting events are some of the most common places people struggle to hear clearly. In order to understand properly in the presence of noise, our brains first have to be accustomed to hearing the seemingly insignificant noises in life. With normal hearing, we hear all sounds and our brains distinguish speech from noise and speech is recognized as the most important sound. When a hearing loss is present and the brain has adjusted to a lack of hearing everyday noises, the brain is no longer able to help you determine which sounds are important speech and which sounds are background noise.
- Unable to distinguish between consonant sounds
Consonant confusion is often due to high-frequency hearing loss. Consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” register at a higher pitch and high frequency tones are often the first ones we lose as hearing loss begins to progress. Consonants transmit the majority of the meaning in speech which means that you will most likely have trouble following conversations and experience consonant confusion if you have some form of hearing loss. You may feel like you are “filling in the blanks” or playing a game of wheel of fortune, piecing together the parts you didn’t hear.
- Increasing the volume or needing captions on TV
Most people have been to a grandparent’s house and noticed that the volume was a bit too loud for the average listener. This is a very common sign that you may be starting to struggle with hearing loss. You may feel you can hear the background music and added noise effects more than you can understand what the characters are saying, lacking clarity in the speech.
- Feeling exhausted after listening
Listening fatigue is certainly a sign of hearing loss but one that is often misinterpreted. We feel tired at the end of the day for so many reasons, the last thing we’re likely to attribute our fatigue to is ‘listening too hard’. Although they’re not commonly correlated, the ears and the brain work together to provide us with the ability to hear and understand. If our ears aren’t hearing properly, our brain tries to pick up the slack and after an entire day of struggling to understand, we feel tired.
- Ears Ringing
Ringing in the ears is a common symptom of hearing loss. Although tinnitus affects about 15-20% of people, 90% of people with tinnitus also experience some form of hearing loss. Experiencing ringing, roaring, buzzing or any form of tinnitus is a sign that you may need to have your hearing checked.
Although each individual hearing loss is unique, these are some of the most common signs that you may be struggling with your hearing. If you are beginning to notice the signs, it is important to reach out to an audiologist or hearing clinic, get your hearing checked and seek a solution as soon as possible.