Hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions people live with today. Over 48 million people in the United States have some degree of impaired hearing. Though it is pervasive, hearing loss still remains widely undertreated. In fact, only a third of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it. Hearing loss typically occurs gradually so people can often miss or overlook early signs, contributing to a delay in treatment. Being able to recognize symptoms can help you identify any changes you may experience to your hearing health, supporting early intervention which can transform your hearing health and overall wellness. 

Conversations are tough to follow. 

An early and more obvious sign of hearing loss is that conversations are challenging to engage in. Hearing loss reduces one’s capacity to hear and process speech. This means that you may struggle hearing everything being said, especially in places with background noise. Speech and other sounds may seem muffled or distorted, making it difficult to make out each and every word. You may also struggle to detect and process specific types of sound (depending on your hearing loss). To navigate all of this during a conversation, people with hearing loss often: 

  • Ask others to repeat what they said, speak louder, and/or slower. 
  • Lip read to help identify individual words. 
  • Shift to angle the ear that hears more clearly towards the speaker. 
  • Say “huh” or “what” in response to what others are saying. 

These symptoms can cause people to miss words or parts of a conversation. To cope, they may keep conversations as short as possible, or sometimes the person with hearing loss may even spend the majority of the time talking so they don’t have to deal with the difficulty of hearing others. Conversations can be even tougher to follow in places with background noise and/or if multiple people are involved. Symptoms can be exacerbated in settings like restaurants, parties, and other social gatherings as well as spaces. 

Your ears are ringing. 

Another sign of hearing loss is what is referred to as tinnitus. This describes hearing a specific noise in one or both ears when no external noise is actually present. This noise is most commonly described as a ringing, whistling, or buzzing like noise. Only you can hear this sound, which can range from mild to more profound. Tinnitus can also be intermittent or more chronic. It is estimated that 90% of tinnitus occurs with underlying hearing loss. Tinnitus not only makes it challenging to hear but also to complete everyday tasks, sleep, and concentrate. This can take a toll on how you feel, impacting health in various ways. 

You always turn up the volume on the TV. 

A telltale sign of hearing loss is needing to increase the volume on your TV and/or other electronic devices. You may even get into arguments with loved ones who think the TV is too loud and ask for you to turn it down. Turning up the volume seems like an effective strategy if you are not able to hear well but this can actually further distort sound, making it harder to hear! It also exposes people to loud noise which can exacerbate symptoms and contribute to hearing loss. 

You are drained after conversations. 

Hearing loss results in the brain receiving less auditory information. This forces the brain to work harder, using more resources and energy, in trying to detect and process sound. When there is background noise present, the brain is even more taxed. People with hearing loss are working overtime in trying to hear and this can lead to fatigue. You may feel drained and exhausted after conversations. 

You are spending less time with others. 

Another common coping strategy is avoiding conversations altogether. This often includes spending less time with loved ones and skipping out on social activities. Social withdrawal is a major outcome of untreated hearing loss. Not only does this affect relationships but also mental health and wellbeing. 

Prioritize Your Hearing Health Today

If any of these signs seem familiar, it is important to have your hearing health assessed as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation!

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