When you stub your toe, your body wastes no time in letting you know that it has happened. But this is not usually the case with hearing damage. The effects occur very slowly over a number of years, and when it finally begins to make itself known, it never leaves. The daily changes are so small that it’s tough to notice them, as your brain is able to make small changes to match your hearing abilities seamlessly. This explains why people wait an average of seven years from the time they first experience changes in their hearing before they seek help. Unfortunately, they also have to endure seven years of poor hearing.
Here are some early signs of hearing loss:
Listening to music or watching TV a higher volume than those around you
Have your loved ones commented more than few times about the volume of your devices? Whether you are watching the latest Netflix series or just catching up with a podcast, turning the volume up louder than others need to is a sign you have hearing loss. Some people feel the need to turn it up to understand the dialogue, not realizing that others can understand the characters words perfectly well at half the volume.
Finding it a challenge to understand other people’s words, especially in noisy places
At home you might be able to understand someone if they speak very clearly and repeat themselves often. But understanding others when out and about is a different story. You’ll hear words being spoken but you might find it difficult to understand them while background music and the conversations coming from other tables compete for attention in your ears. With hearing loss, the ability to distinguish important speech sounds from distracting background noises is lost, making it almost impossible to hear when surrounded by competing sounds.
Asking people to repeat themselves
Do you often ask your family and friends to speak up or to speak more clearly? If everyone around you seems to be mumbling, it probably means that your hearing isn’t as good as it once was. With hearing loss, the first thing to go is our ability to distinguish between higher-register consonant sounds, such as ‘t’ and ‘s’. Words might be misconstrued and those around you may start to tire of having to repeat themselves so often.
Feeling tired or stressed from concentrating on other people’s words.
The act of repeatedly attempting to make sense of a string of words when some of the words are missing can take a heavy toll on the brain, making us feel mentally exhausted after the meal at the restaurant. This is especially true after meetups with groups such as after-work drinks, or family events. If you leave these evens more embarrassed and drained than reinvigorated, then consider whether it might be hearing loss which is the issue.
Avoiding social situations
In the long term, the increased cognitive load coupled with a lack of enjoyment of social events may make people with hearing loss less inclined to be social at all. it’s no surprise that many previous studies have backed up this theory. Hearing loss makes it difficult to maintain the connections you had before, as well keep up with the hobbies you once loved. This puts these people at particular risk for depression and even dementia.
Being noticed by your family and friends.
You might not even be the first to realize you have hearing loss. If your family and friends begin making reference to your hearing loss more times than a joke is supposed to be repeated, it’s probably time to start asking yourself some difficult questions about your hearing. They might be seeing the signs you’re missing.