The first signs of hearing loss are often so subtle, it’s all too common for them to be able to be ignored. However, catching a hearing loss early is more essential than many people know for their continued health as we age. What was once thought of as a mild communication issue is now widely understood to not only impact relationships, lower self-esteem, cause self-isolation, impact mobility and cause cognitive decline, even at its most early stages. In most cases a hearing loss isn’t going anywhere, so acknowledging the reality of hearing loss, while a difficult process, is a crucial first step towards learning to live fully, despite hearing loss.
Recognizing Early Signs of Hearing Loss
The issue with hearing loss is that it often starts so subtly that many people go years without even realizing they have it. It’s all too common to miss tales of hearing loss when you aren’t aware what they are. Common early signs of hearing loss include:
- Speech and other sounds often seem muffled
- High-pitched sounds are easy to miss, such as the chirping of birds or an alarm.
- Conversations may be harder to follow when in a noisy place with multiple conversations or background sounds all occurring at once.
- It may be harder to hear over the phone even when your volume is turned all the way up.
- Certain sounds including consonants within words, such as the difference between s and f, between p and t, or between sh and th in speech may be difficult to decipher.
- You find you must ask people to repeat themselves frequently
- You may find you are maxing out the volume of the television or radio
- Ringing in the ears, commonly known as tinnitus.
Why we avoid confronting hearing loss
Often the signs are clear, but we still put off admitting to ourselves and taking action around a hearing loss. In fact, people with age-related hearing loss delay seeking treatment for their condition on average for 7 to ten years from the time they first suspect they have an issue. Reluctance around addressing an age-related hearing loss, may stem from ideas around the taboo of aging. Other’s fear admitting they have a problem admitting they have a hearing problem because it admits a weakness. The important thing to understand is that treating a hearing loss will help you navigate conversations, relationships, and the entire world with increased confidence.
Find the opportunity
The hardest step for many is admitting they have a problem with hearing loss—still many don’t even know they have an issue. This is why we recommend screening for hearing aids every three to five years and if older than 60, have a family history of hearing loss or show signs which may indicate a hearing loss then you should test annually. The thing with hearing loss is that once you’ve decided to acknowledge it, many report feeling as if a whole new world has opened up! There are many resources available to people experiencing loss of hearing from hearing aids, assistive listening devices to a wide array of accommodations to help you navigate public and private spaces.
Practice asking for help
Asking for help is incredibly difficult for some, especially those who grew up in a culture of not knowing how. However, one thing that many report when they first start wearing hearing aids is that they suddenly have a license to ask for help, allowing them to receive the help and care they need to communicate and navigate the world successfully each day.
There are many communication techniques which will improve your interactions that you can ask for when you are open about your hearing loss. Ask people to maintain eye contact, to avoid covering their mouth when appropriate so you can lip read and speak with greater clarity.
Take the first step today
The first step to acknowledging a possible hearing loss for the first time is to schedule a hearing exam. We can test your hearing and help you find the best solution for you to hear with enhanced clarity. With hearing aids fitting by us, we can fine tune your program and find one that is truly tailored to you, your needs, and your life. Contact us today to schedule your next hearing exam now.