Monday, May 28, 2012

Top 10 Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is incredibly common, yet often ignored. Why? In pondering, I have came to the following. The full answer is a measuare of two parts. First, there are various causes of hearing loss and even different type of hearing loss. The most common cause of hearing loss, presbycusis, is simply due to aging. With this, you will notice the person struggling most often with high frequency sounds. They will feel like they can hear, but will struggle to fully understand conversation or pick up on every little sound. Speech is complex and utilizes the entire frequency spectrum. While someone is missing parts of words, they still may be fine at lower frequencies. This allows them to compensate by filling in the gaps of what they are missing, and use what they can hear to carry on a conversation. The subconscious ability for the brain to compensate for a hearing loss can make it difficult for one to detect the early stages of a hearing loss.

Compounded by this, we have to consider inevitable aging. It is not uncommon to have your loss accelerated by genetics and exposure to loud sounds throughout your lifetime. However, unless you experience some form of extreme trauma to your hearing, the natural aging process is so gradual that a hearing loss often will go unnoticed. The break down of someone's physiological ability to hear rarely happens overnight. Until the loss becomes severe enough to affect everyday life, the minute degradation in a person's ability to hear is extremely hard to detect.

With any medical condition, the sooner you address the hearing loss the better treatment outcome you will have. For those of you reading this that suspect you or a loved may struggle with hearing, below are the ten most common signs of a hearing loss.

1. Telephone Trouble

Most phones come with a volume control setting, so you might not have trouble hearing your friend because you have amped the telephone to the max. Check the volume setting on the telephone receiver. If it is at max volume, chances are you or someone at home has a hearing loss. If the people around you comment that you talk too loud on the phone, this is another telling sign you may have a loss. People will talk louder usually because they cannot hear themselves. They may be assuming the other person is having just as hard a time, or may not even notice they are doing it.

2. Conversation Trouble

Our ability to process multiple incoming and competing signals deteriorates over time. Let’s say you are at a meeting at work or eating dinner with the family. When two or more people talk at the same time, do you have a hard time keeping up? Many with a hearing loss complain they cannot follow conversation when too many things are happening at once.

3. TV Trouble

When your family complains that the TV is too loud, you probably have a hearing problem.

4. Straining To Hear

I do this all the time with my vision without noticing it. If I am too lazy to go find my glasses, I will automatically start squinting to try to read. I honestly do not even realize I am doing it until someone around me points it out. Same with hearing. If you find yourself straining to hear the speaker in the boardroom or at the podium, what does that tell you? If everyone else was able to hear with ease, have you considered having your hearing tested?

5. Trouble In Noisy Environments

You are with some friends at the new restaurant in town. It is noisy. All that background noise makes it difficult to hear the folks at your table. People with hearing loss often have problems masking out background noise. Good news. Today’s hearing aids – even the entry-level variety – come with directional microphones and digital noise reduction. Directional mics pick up sound in front of you, while reducing the cacophony of ambient noise surrounding you. Digital noise reduction reduces the din of background noise to improve comfort.

6. ‘What?’

If “what?” is the most commonly-used word in your vocabulary, you are not getting the sound signals you need to process information.

7. Clarity Trouble

They mumble. They do not speak loud enough. While that may be true for some, if you are having problems frequently with understanding conversation, it could be your hearing. People start to complain about muffled hearing when they are not picking up the full range of sound. Those low to high frequencies all sound like mumbling.

8. Word Discrimination Trouble

“You want me to eat a frog?” “No, Fred, I said, ‘See the fog’.” If you are having problems with word discrimination, a hearing test will cover that. During our free tests, we will do a speech test which will target specific sounds that may be giving you trouble.

9. Trouble Hearing Women/Children

As previously discussed, with age you are more likely to experience trouble in the higher frequencies. If you are struggling to hear women and children it could be because they speak at a higher pitch which is out of your hearing range. That is why it is harder to hear what your granddaughter is saying than your best friend with a big, booming, deep voice.

10. Family Trouble

Hearing loss is not soley about the ears. Loss of hearing can be associated with depression, anxiety, and isolation. Many times I see a spouse get frustrated that their significant other cannot hear them. They want the other person to repeat themselves and speak up. This blame game cycle wears on them, and can cause unneccary strain on the relationship. In reality, they are not aggrevated at their spouse, but that they cannot communicate as effectively as they once did. They are annoyed that they cannot hear. Healthy hearing is a quality of life issue. If you are missing out on conversations with your spouse, if you do not hear the birds tweeting, or your grandchild’s laughter, you are not living life to the fullest. Fortunately, there are lots of hearing solutions availabe. You just have to find the one that is most comfortable for you.

1 comment:

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