What are the Signs of Hearing Loss?
The Prevalence of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is currently the third most common medical condition in the US, affecting 20% of the population. Among older Americans, one in three people age 65 or older experience hearing loss. For those age 75 or older, 50% of people experience hearing loss. Chances are, you may know one or more people with a hearing loss.
Learning About Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is an invisible condition, which means that it is often overlooked. Because hearing loss tends to develop gradually, people may not even be aware that their hearing abilities are changing. The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) reports that it takes an average of seven years from the time someone first recognizes symptoms of hearing loss before they decide to take action. This period of untreated hearing loss could lead to adverse physical and emotional consequences, from dementia to depression to social isolation.
At the same time, hearing loss has long been linked to aging, which has made it a sensitive topic for people to address. People might find it difficult to discuss their hearing in the workplace, at the risk that it might affect their jobs. Individuals who experience hearing loss also find themselves isolated socially, whether it is due to challenges of conversations in big groups or loud spaces, or a decreased desire to pursue their favorite activities, hobbies, and cultural events. Learning about the signs of hearing loss could help us be aware of changes in our own hearing, or with a loved one.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Taking a hearing test is he most definitive way of identifying a hearing loss. Hearing specialists recommend that people age 50 or older take an annual hearing test. Even if a hearing loss is not identified, it is important to monitor your hearing health.
Below are a few tell-tale signs of hearing loss. If you, or a loved one, are experiencing some of these signs, the best bet is to schedule a hearing test with us at Akamai Hearing Aids.
Issues with speech recognition: Are you always asking people to repeat themselves? Does it sound like people are mumbling? In group conversations with multiple speakers, you may find it difficult to understand and follow the conversation. Hearing loss interferes with our ability to recognize speech.
Issues with directionality: Sounds keep us connected to the world around us. For example, the honk of a car gives you information on how far away it is from you. With hearing loss, spatial awareness may be difficult. You may not hear someone behind you calling your name or telling you to “Watch out!”
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.
Difficulties with background noise: Do you find yourself avoiding certain environments because it’s just too difficult to hear? Restaurants, bars, and venues may be challenging for you, especially if you’re in the middle of a conversation. Similarly, big or crowded public spaces may prove difficult. For example, auditoriums, public transportation hubs, or lobbies with high ceilings may create acoustic conditions that make difficult for you to hear. With hearing loss, it becomes more difficult for people to focus on the sounds they want to hear against the interference of background noise.
Higher volumes on your TV and radio: Take a look at the volume levels on your TV, radio, tablet, or smartphone. Is the volume set at maximum volume? With hearing loss, it’s not just a matter of volume, though at first it might appear that way. We think that if sounds are just louder, then we can hear them. Hearing loss, however, also interferes with our ability to understand sound. If members of your family have complained about high volumes when you’re watching TV together, it could be hearing loss.
Increased levels of stress and anxiety: Untreated hearing loss has been linked to increase levels of stress and anxiety. When communication becomes difficult, you may find yourself stressed out or anxious before going out to meet up with friends or before attending a business meeting.
Withdrawal and isolation: Withdrawal and isolation are inherently linked to the emotional responses of stress and anxiety with hearing loss. Retreating from social events and interpersonal relationships can be common when there is difficulty to speech recognition and communication breakdown.
Concerned About Hearing Loss?
Do these signs sound familiar to you? Have you seen your loved one exhibiting some of these signs? Hearing loss can be an isolating condition, but there is no need to live your life with hearing loss. The first step to better hearing is to contact us at Akamai Hearing Aids and schedule a hearing test.