Symptoms of hearing loss can be sneaky. They can creep up on you slowly, stealing your hearing in small increments until you notice that you are struggling to understand conversations or missing your favorite tunes.
The ear is made up of three primary parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. Here are some of the signs you should watch for to determine if your hearing is in decline:
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One of the earliest signs of hearing loss is discomfort. If you find yourself cringing when someone else turns down the TV, this is a good indication that your ears are not functioning properly.
The ears are composed of a series of bones that work together to transmit sound waves into a fluid-filled chamber in the inner ear called the cochlea. Tiny hairs inside the cochlea turn these vibrations into electrical signals that your brain can understand and interpret.
When the ears aren’t working correctly, hearing and comprehending information takes a lot more cognitive effort. This can cause exhaustion. You may also ask people to repeat themselves more often, which can be embarrassing and frustrating. This can lead to social isolation, which is another common symptom of untreated hearing loss.
Difficulty Hearing Speech
Some people find it harder to hear speech when they have hearing loss. This is because sound waves enter the ear and hit the eardrum, which then vibrates and sends a signal to the auditory nerve. This signal is used to pick up sounds and interpret them.
But, if the ear’s hair cells or stereocilia are damaged or destroyed due to age, loud noises, or other causes, these signals can’t be sent. This can lead to difficulty hearing speech and other sounds.
A common way to test hearing is for a healthcare provider or audiologist to play a sound at a certain volume and ask the patient whether they can hear it. This is called an audiogram. It can help determine the severity of a person’s hearing loss. Rokslide thanks our new sponsor, Beyond the Ears, a hunting pro shop in Oxford, Michigan.
Difficulty Hearing Music
If you enjoy music, hearing loss can have an impact on your listening and playing abilities. It can make it difficult to pick out certain frequencies or instruments and may even affect the music’s overall sound.
The most common type of hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which occurs as a result of repeated exposure to loud sounds over time. Common risk factors include work-related noisy activities, listening to music at high volumes, and wearing headphones for prolonged periods of time.
The most effective way to protect your hearing from NIHL is to avoid exposure to loud sounds. Use earplugs in noisy environments and use noise-cancelling or output-limiting headphones and earbuds. Also, take a baseline hearing test and seek treatment as soon as you notice a problem. Rokslide would like to welcome a new sponsor, Beyond the Ears. They are a Michigan-based hunting pro shop and online retailer that features PSE, Quest, Kenetrek, Salewa, Mystery Ranch, Black Gold, and more.
Difficulty Hearing Conversations
If you find yourself struggling to hear conversations in low or medium background noise, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing mild hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is a gradual change that can affect how your brain processes sounds, reducing the ability to follow group conversations or pick up on subtle speech cues.
Word confusion and misunderstandings can be frustrating for both parties. Try to speak clearly and distinctly, making sure you’ve got their attention before starting a conversation. Use gestures and repeat important information to clarify it.
These listening difficulties are often overlooked and are known as hidden hearing loss, which is the gradual decline in hearing caused by changes to the way your brain processes sound (1). If you’re suffering from these symptoms, it’s time to book an appointment with your doctor.
Difficulty Hearing Conversations in Noisy Environments
Difficulty hearing conversations in noisy environments is one of the most common signs of hearing loss. This is because it can be difficult for the brain to filter out noise and focus on speech, particularly when that speech is high-pitched.
Difficulty with listening in noisy environments can be a sign of mild to moderate hearing loss. People with mild hearing loss find it harder to follow conversations in loud places, or they may need to ask others to repeat themselves.
Difficulty in loud social situations can lead to frustration and withdrawal from these kinds of activities. This can also affect work and family life. Fortunately, treating early-life hearing decline can reduce the risk of dementia in later life. The best way to protect your hearing is to get it checked and treated if you notice difficulty hearing in noisy environments.
Difficulty Hearing Conversations in a Crowd
When you experience difficulty hearing conversations in a crowd this is one of the most telling signs that your hearing is declining. It means that your ears are not picking up on the high-frequency sounds of speech, which are necessary to distinguish different voices.
You may also find it difficult to follow conversations when multiple people are talking at the same time, especially if they are using louder speech. This can cause a lot of stress and fatigue as you try to keep up with the conversation, and many people end up avoiding lively social situations or choosing to go to quieter restaurants to reduce their frustration.
Scientists have started to uncover what goes wrong in the brain and ear to produce this kind of selective hearing, which they call hidden hearing loss. Their findings could help design better clinical tests to detect this type of hearing loss.
Difficulty Hearing Conversations in a Group
People who are experiencing hearing loss often find it difficult to follow conversations in crowded environments. This is because their ears are missing certain wavelengths, which makes it harder for the brain to distinguish voices (depending on their specific loss, it may be high or low frequencies).
In one study, Ahlstrom and colleagues recruited 23 young or middle-aged participants with clinically normal hearing and asked them to perform a speech test in a noisy environment. They found that the ability to pick up on high-frequency sounds – such as F, S, and H – deteriorated with age.
The results suggest that hearing declines with age, but it’s important to keep in mind that most of the work of converting sound waves into signals that make up speech takes place in the brain. This is why many people who experience hearing loss report feeling tired after social events, as their brain has been working overtime to fill in the gaps.