4 Common Signs of Hearing Loss in Your Loved One
Hearing loss is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide, especially as they age. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 430 million people have disabling hearing loss.
Unfortunately, many people don't realize they have hearing loss until it becomes a significant problem. And many people aren’t aware that they’re experiencing hearing loss; it can be difficult for an individual to determine a pattern in themselves as it may not be clear to them what their missing.
As a result, quite often a family member or spouse will be the first to recognize hearing loss in those they spend time with. For example, a son or daughter may notice that their parent frequently needs to turn up the volume on the television louder than others in their family require. Or a spouse might hear the kitchen timer go off, while their partner didn’t.
In this blog post, we'll discuss the common signs to look for in someone you think is experiencing hearing loss.
Difficulty understanding speech
One of the most common signs of hearing loss is difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy environments like busy restaurants or parties. For some, it may be hard to follow conversations, and they may often ask people to repeat themselves. Others might find it difficult to parse out speech with background noise, creating a reliance on lip-reading or visual cues to understand what people are saying.
Of course, there are people who speak softly or articulate more quickly than others. However, it’s important to recognize when this is a one-off problem or a pattern of issues.
Someone experiencing hearing loss may state that they can’t hear people because they mumble, or that they can’t hear the radio because the speakers are poor. This of course can’t be true of all situations, so if you find your loved one makes a pattern of similar excuses, it could be an indication that they’re experiencing hearing loss.
Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds
Often, those experiencing hearing loss can hear sounds at a low-pitch but are unable to hear those at a high-pitch. For example, one might be able to clearly hear a car coming down the road but can’t hear chirping birds.
Humans can detect sounds in a frequency range from about 20 hertz (Hz) to 20 kilohertz (kHz), and this range decreases as we age. High-pitched sounds are usually considered to be about 2,000 Hz and above.
Some examples of high-pitched sounds include:
- Children’s and women’s voices
- Many consonants of speech (f, s, th, sh, ch, t, k, etc.)
- Nature sounds: mosquitoes buzzing, crickets chirping, birdsong, etc.
If you notice a loved one having trouble hearing high-pitched sounds, this could be a sign that they’re experiencing hearing loss.
Ringing in the ears
Another common sign of hearing loss is ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus. Tinnitus can sound like ringing, buzzing, or hissing in one or both ears, which can be very distracting and annoying. It’s a sign of damage to the inner ear and can be caused by exposure to loud noises, ear infections, certain medications, underlying health conditions, or age-related hearing loss.
If you find your loved one is complaining about ringing or buzzing in their ears, it could be an indication of hearing loss.
“Bluffing” and withdrawal from social situations
In some cases, those experiencing hearing loss may pretend to hear what is being said in social environments. They may nod their head “yes” to appear as if they hear the conversation, which can be a mechanism to hide feelings of embarrassment. This is known as “bluffing”, and it can make recognizing hearing loss in your loved one especially difficult. If you suspect that your loved one has not properly heard a conversation, ask them for clarification.
More severely, those experiencing hearing loss may find themselves avoiding social situations or withdrawing from conversations. For example, your mother, a poker lover, has stopped playing at family gatherings because she can’t hear the calls when the cards are put down. Or maybe your grandfather has stopped attending Sunday mass, noting that the “sermon is recited too fast.”
Those experiencing hearing loss may feel frustrated by their inability to follow conversations, which can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Straining to hear can also be exhausting and cause headaches or fatigue, leading those experiencing hearing loss to withdraw from social situations. This can have a negative impact on their overall well-being.
If you find these examples resonate with you or someone you know, it could be a sign of hearing loss.
Overall, hearing loss can have a significant impact on the well-being of you or your loved one, but it doesn't have to. Early detection and treatment of hearing loss can significantly improve your quality of life. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs, it's important to see a hearing healthcare professional for a hearing evaluation.
At Treat Hearing Health Care, we can determine the extent and severity of the hearing loss and recommend appropriate treatment options, such as hearing aids. Don't wait until it's too late and take action today to protect your hearing health.