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I can hear, just not clearly. Do I have hearing loss?

Hearing loss manifests in many different ways. Hearing loss comes in all degrees from mild to profound. Unless you’re an audiologist, when you think of hearing loss, severe hearing loss or deafness probably come to mind. But mild, moderate and high frequency hearing losses are actually much more common. With these hearing losses, the only symptom may be subtle difficulty with word understanding, especially in situations where there is competing noise.

Certain voices or words may be sound garbled, as if others are mumbling. At times, you may play the television and radio at louder than normal volume levels, but still some words may not come through clearly. Hearing on the telephone may be difficult sometimes, especially if the person on the other end has an accent. Music may sound distorted at times, even when the overall volume of the music is comfortable, leading to a decreased enjoyment of music.

Other symptoms of hearing loss may include asking people to repeat what they say, perception of people not speaking clearly, difficulty with women’s and children’s voices, and difficulty hearing when the person speaking is at a distance. In general, in situations where there is background noise – such as in restaurants, family gatherings, parties, etc. – hearing (or rather, understanding what is said) is much more difficult for people with hearing loss.

If you have difficulty understanding words, voices or conversations at times when others around you don’t seem to be having difficulty, you may have a hearing loss. In this case, a comprehensive hearing evaluation by a professional is recommended.

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