Like many signs of aging, hearing loss can be so gradual that we may not realize it’s happening to us. Our bodies grow accustomed to the incremental loss of sensation and we lose perspective of the accumulative damage. Among Americans, 1 out of every 5 adults suffers from hearing loss, and for those over the age of 65, numbers increase to 1 in every 3 adults. While it can be difficult to notice the change, there are always clues.
Here are a few signs that it is time to seek out hearing loss treatment.
- You have trouble following conversations in large groups.
Do you struggle to keep up with the table talk in busy restaurants or crowds? Do you find yourself tuning out of a conversation when too many people are talking or when the room has lots of background noise? Hearing aids may help you rejoin the conversation. In spaces with lots of background noise or competing voices to follow, someone with hearing loss can have trouble distinguishing between important sounds and plain old noise. Digital hearing aids and assisted listening devices can help sharpen sounds and weed out background comotion.
You can’t always tell which direction sounds are coming from.
Not only do our ears help us hear, they also help with balance and location perception. Hearing well from both ears helps us place where sounds are coming from. If you’ve found yourself looking to the right when you hear a siren, but the ambulance drives up on your left, you may be suffering from hearing loss. People who have hearing damage in one ear will mistakenly assume that all sounds are approaching on their more perceptive side. Hearing aids and custom hearing protection can help restore normal perception.
Your friends and family complain about the TV and radio.
You think the volume is just right, but your fellow watchers ask you to turn it down. This one may seem obvious, but it even happens to people who have sought treatment for hearing damage. Hearing aid batteries begin to wear out, and often times we turn the dial up instead of checking our hearing aids. If you’re straining to hear when others are happily listening, it might be time to get your hearing checked.
You have trouble understand young children.
It’s true that sometimes children have trouble annunciating their words, and occasionally their parents are the only ones who can distinguish the child’s meaning. That being said, hearing loss can make it especially difficult to hear the high-pitched voices of young children. Their words may sound muffled and distant, but if you’re struggling to understand more than other adults, it may be a hearing issue.
You frequently suffer from a ringing in your ear.
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ear, affects 50 million Americans. The noise can come and go, but when you hear it, it’s annoying and distracting. A tinnitus hearing test can help determine if the ringing is an internal auditory issue and can be resolved. Tinnitus can be linked to other health or hearing issues and a professional audiologist can help discuss all the options and possible solutions. Even sporadic ringing in the ears can be a big annoyance and it’s unnecessary to suffer through without a solution.
Any of these signs may be a tip that it’s time to check your hearing. Though hearing loss is a common and easily preventable health issue, many people avoid seeking help. On average, people with hearing damage will wait seven years before they pursue relief.
Hearing loss can be isolating and frustrating, both for those who are hard of hearing and the friends and loved ones trying to communicate with them. Assistive listening devices and hearing aids can make a big difference. Modern advances help audiologist fine tune hearing aids to suit the specific concerns of each patient. It never hurts to have your hearing checked.
Have you noticed these signs in yourself or a loved one? What other clues have helped you recognize hearing damage? Tell us about what made you seek help and the solutions that have given you relief.