When you start to notice that something is wrong with one of your primary senses, you probably have a cause for concern. 15% of American adults have some kind of hearing loss. Are you worried that you’re becoming part of that statistic?
We rely on our senses of touch, sight, and hearing to navigate the world, so losing one can be terrifying. Not all signs of hearing loss imply future deafness, but they do mean that you should see a doctor.
If you’ve been experiencing changes in your speech or hearing, you’re in the right place. Research is always the first step!
Keep reading for a few common signs of hearing loss that you should look out for.
Following Conversations Becomes Harder
Do you ever have trouble following conversations between friends or family members? They start talking and it feels like you’re trying to follow a fast-paced game of ping-pong.
You can tell that the words are being said but you can’t possibly hear them.
This can be a focus problem, but it can also be an issue with your hearing. If everyone seems to be into together into a drone, don’t immediately blame your attention span.
You shouldn’t have to focus in too hard to be able to understand people in a 3 or 4 way conversation. You’re likely having issues distinguishing voices.
You Can’t Hear in Noisy Environments
This is a similar issue, but it doesn’t require a large group of people all talking at once.
Typically, we’re able to distinguish specific voices in a room through the cocktail party effect, or selective listening. Losing this ability can make it frustrating to try to understand the person sitting right next to you in a busy bar or party.
Before you panic, to an extent, this is normal. If you’re at a loud concert or an air show, don’t be alarmed if you can’t hear your friend standing next to you. Some things are just too loud.
If you find this happening frequently, though, where the person you’re speaking with is disappearing into the crowd of voices around them, consider talking to the best audiologists you can find.
High-Frequency Voices Become Difficult to Hear
Hearing doesn’t often go all at once. With hearing loss, you may only experience the loss of certain frequencies.
There are some frequencies that no humans can hear at all (like those used for dog whistles). Others, younger humans can hear, but with age, the ability slowly fades. The first noises to go are generally very high pitched.
As you get older, it’s normal to lose the high pitched sounds. When it begins to bleed into higher-pitched voices, though, you may have a problem.
Women and children generally have voices that are higher than those of men. If you find yourself struggling to hear the women and children in your life (but you have no trouble listening to men) you may be starting to lose some of your hearing.
You Constantly Ask People to Repeat Themselves
You might not even realize that you’re doing this.
It’s normal to ask for a repeat once in a while. Our attention strays from the conversation, or perhaps someone really was speaking too quietly. The rare occurrence of this isn’t a cause for concern.
If you make it a habit to ask people to repeat themselves, or if you’re always saying “what?”, you might be in a bit of trouble.
You either have a hearing issue or an attention issue, and both should be addressed. Pay attention to how you act in conversations. If the frequency of requested repeats is going up, see a doctor.
You Keep Your Volume High
Loud music is one of the things that can contribute to hearing loss in young people. If you constantly find yourself turning your volume all the way up (or if you’ve found that you’re raising it over time without outside influence), you may want to get your hearing checked.
This is especially alarming if you don’t actually know how loud your volume is. Have your neighbors or family members complained about the noise coming from your room or apartment? When people get into your car, do they ask you to turn the music way down?
Some people just like loud music, you may not be losing your hearing yet. You will, though, if you keep the volume too high.
You Develop Tinnitus
This is the most obvious sign of hearing loss.
Tinnitus (or an unidentifiable sound in the ears) doesn’t always lead to hearing loss. It’s not, however, a good sign.
Tinnitus is generally described as a high-pitched ringing in the ears, but it can also sound like a humming or a dull drone.
Tinnitus is often associated with age-related hearing loss, but it can also indicate hearing loss in young people.
The phantom noise in your ears can be irritating at best and maddening at worse. Most of the time, tinnitus can only be heard by you. With more serious forms of tinnitus, though, a doctor can also hear it.
If you have persistent tinnitus that doesn’t fade away quickly, see a doctor.
Do You Have Signs of Hearing Loss?
If you have experienced any of these things, it might be time for you to go see a doctor that specializes in hearing and speech.
Many signs of hearing loss can also be attributed to other unrelated conditions, but if you’re truly losing your hearing early, seeking treatment early is essential.
Just because you’re losing your hearing doesn’t mean you will go deaf, but this can be frightening. Try not to panic, but see a doctor to learn about your options.
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