According to the available statistics, the average American waits about seven years from the time they notice changes in their hearing to the time they reach out to an audiologist for hearing care. There are multiple reasons for this but one of the simplest reasons is that early signs of hearing loss may actually be hard to detect!
In the vast majority of instances, hearing loss occurs really gradually, over a period of years or even decades. When hearing deteriorates at such a slow pace, it can be hard to identify – which is why it is so important to have a good understanding on the early signs of hearing loss. Below, we discuss some of the most common.
Ringing in the ears. Ringing in the ears – or tinnitus – is very common, affecting about 15% of Americans. The annoying ringing, buzzing, thumping, whooshing or whistling you hear in your ears may actually be a sign of hearing loss. While there are some people who experience tinnitus and do not have hearing loss, the vast majority of those with tinnitus also have a hearing loss.
Hearing, but not understanding. With hearing loss, higher pitched and softer sounds are usually the first to go; and human conversations are absolutely flooded with these sounds. An example is the subtle difference between the “s” sound and the “sh” sounds. When someone is speaking and you feel as though you can hear them but can’t understand what they are saying, it may be that hearing loss has affected your ability to make these distinctions. It can also feel as though everyone around you is mumbling.
Parties and other activities just don’t seem fun anymore. Have you found yourself bowing out of invitations to gatherings that you used to enjoy earlier? This is a common sign of hearing loss. As mentioned above, understanding conversations is difficult with untreated hearing loss. Add talking with a group of people in a noisier environment and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Engaging in conversations and hanging with the people you love may become frustrating and annoying with untreated hearing loss.
Others complain about the volume. If your spouse is constantly asking you to turn down the volume on your device or TV, it is not likely that they have suddenly become super sensitive to noise. Instead, it may be that you are playing the TV at a louder volume than you used to, even though it sounds the same to your ears. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s a good idea to get your hearing tested, because it may be hearing loss.
Your loved ones feel that you are not listening to them. Many people do not think about their hearing loss much unless they realize that it is affecting the people they love. If your loved ones have recently begun complaining that you are not really listening to them or interested in what they have to say, an untreated hearing loss may actually be the cause. Untreated hearing loss makes following conversations more difficult, which can appear as though you are not fully invested in what your conversation partner is saying to you.
You are constantly asking others to repeat themselves. Think about some of your most recent conversations. How many times did you need to ask the person to repeat themselves? Taking note of this is a good marker in assessing whether or not you may be experiencing hearing loss.
A hearing test is the surest way to know
If you have noticed some of the above symptoms or are just curious about your hearing health, reach out to us at the Hearing Health Center of Houston for a hearing evaluation. In fact, get in the habit of doing this each year! Getting an annual hearing test is the only way to be truly sure of your hearing abilities throughout the years, and to track whether or not your hearing is getting worse (and at what rate).
Hearing tests are inexpensive, extremely quick, painless, and you get your results immediately on the spot. If you are in the Houston area, we would love to work with you and get you scheduled for your first hearing assessment.