Hearing loss occurs gradually and may not be immediately identified. On average, it takes a person seven years from the time they first experience symptoms of hearing loss before they decide to seek treatment. If you notice that you, or someone you love, experience any of these signs, consider seeing an audiologist sooner rather than later.
10. Muffled sounds.
You may still be able to hear sounds, but they will not be as clear as before. Some people have described muffled hearing as “having cotton in your ears.” Perhaps the clarity of your hearing will cut in and out, with some sounds clearer than others.
9. Difficulty in large group settings or conversations.
Hearing loss makes it difficult to discern speech patterns. In group conversations with cross talk and many voices chiming in, you may find it difficult to understand and follow the conversation.
8. Difficulty in restaurants.
Restaurants are inherently noisy environments, especially ones designed with open kitchens and modern aesthetics. From loud music to the combined volume of conversations surrounding you, it’s no wonder you have difficulty hearing your server recite the specials on a busy night.
7. Difficulty with phones and alarm clocks.
You may sleep through your alarm or miss calls if they are in your back pocket or in your bag. You may also find yourself straining to hear conversations on your phone, even with the highest volume setting.
6. Difficulty hearing in large, public spaces.
Concert halls, auditoriums, movie theaters, public transportation stations, convention centers – all of these spaces share similar acoustic elements in that they are large, cavernous, and filled with a barrage of sounds. You may find it difficult to hear speeches, performances and announcements in these spaces.
5. Higher volumes on your TV and radio.
Gradually, you may have noticed that you’ve been turning up the volume higher on your TV, radio, and other electronic devices. Perhaps members of your family have complained about how the sound is when you’re watching a movie or listening to the radio in the car. Higher volumes, even though they may clarify sound for you, can damage your hearing.
4. Cannot hear sounds behind you.
With limited hearing of the sounds around you, your spatial awareness may be off. You may not hear someone behind you calling your name or telling you to “Watch out!” Hearing is a sense that protects us and keeps us safe; hearing loss affects our sense of security.
3. Need for repetition in conversation.
You may find that conversations are challenging, that you are reading lips more than listening to what people are saying, and that you ask people to repeat themselves multiple times. Difficulty with speech recognition and comprehension is one of the main signs of hearing loss.
2. Increased levels of stress and anxiety.
Because conversations and louder social settings are challenging, you may find yourself stressed out or anxious before going out to meet up with friends or before attending a business meeting. You might feel anxious about asking people to repeat themselves or for misunderstanding what has been said. This is an emotional response to symptoms of hearing loss.
1. Withdrawal and isolation.
Many people with untreated hearing loss withdraw from their social lives and interpersonal relationships, isolating themselves to avoid the stress and strain of attempting to hear. Researchers have found that untreated hearing loss leads to depression, and that social isolation and lack of activity and engagement may be linked to dementia. If you recognize this social isolation as your reality, or that of someone you love, it is time to seek treatment for hearing loss.