Contributed by Joy Victory, managing editor, Healthy Hearing Last updated 2021-05-24T00:00:00-05:00
Like any medical condition, the sooner you address hearing loss the better. Here are 10 common signs that you may have hearing loss.
You have trouble hearing on the telephone. Cell and landline phones are equipped with a volume control setting, so you might not have trouble hearing your friend, co-worker or client because you’ve amped the telephone to the max. Check the volume setting, and if you find yourself inching the volume up louder and louder, you may have hearing loss.
You have trouble following a conversation when people are talking at the same time. Our ability to process multiple incoming and competing signals deteriorates over time, so being a little lost in conversation occasionally isn't always a sign of hearing loss. However, if you’re at a work meeting or eating dinner with family, and you frequently have a hard time keeping up when two or more people talk at the same time, you may have hearing loss.
The family (or your neighbor!) complains that your TV is too loud. Television programs can be hard to follow, particularly during times when music is drowning out dialogue. Turning the TV up louder doesn’t always help make the sound clearer. If you consistently need the TV turned up so loud that it’s uncomfortable for others in the room or if your neighbors can hear it, it’s time to get a hearing test.
You’re tired from straining to hear conversations. Constantly straining to hear and follow conversation is mentally and physically fatiguing. Doing so can make you feel exhausted and worn out after even a normal day. So, if a typical day of conversing with coworkers, friends and family leaves you with a headache or feeling physically fatigued, you may have a hearing loss. More: Hearing loss is exhausting? I was skeptical until I took a hearing test.
You have trouble hearing in noisy environments. You’re enjoying dinner at the new restaurant in town, and 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 and focusing on speech. This is a very common patient complaint heard by hearing care professionals, and if it happens to you often, it could be time for a hearing evaluation.
You say “What?” a lot. Just because you didn’t hear a mumbling co-worker from 10 feet away doesn’t mean you have a hearing loss. However, if “what?” is becoming the most commonly used word in your vocabulary, it could mean you aren’t getting the sound signals you need to process speech correctly. You may have hearing loss. Another sign is you rely heavily on your spouse to "translate" for you, compensating for your hearing loss.
You misunderstand what people say. “You want me to eat a frog?” “No, Fred, I said, ‘See the fog.’” Misunderstanding people can be embarrassing, and it often stems from the beginnings of high-frequency hearing loss that affect our ability to discern the sounds of speech. This type of hearing loss is known as sensorineural hearing loss and is often due to getting older and/or exposure to loud noise (noise-induced hearing loss).
You have trouble hearing children and women. Hearing loss within a specific frequency range is common, and with age, you’re more likely to experience hearing loss in the high frequencies. Since women and children speak at higher pitches or frequencies, it’s often more difficult to hear what your grandchild or wife is saying to you than when your male friend with the booming, deep voice speaks to you.
You become annoyed and frustrated during conversation. It’s easy to get frustrated and annoyed at those around you when you cannot hear what they're saying. The feelings of frustration are normal and understandable since communication is such an important part of life. If you’re being honest with yourself, you may recognize that you are not actually annoyed at those speaking to you, but more so with a hearing loss you’re beginning to notice.
How to get help
If you recognize just one or two of these signs, your hearing may not be affected. Even people with perfectly normal hearing experience times where we have trouble understanding someone or hearing in challenging environments. However, if you frequently recognize more than a few of these signs or any other common hearing loss symptoms, getting a baseline hearing test is a good idea.
Hearing loss is well-understood and solutions to fit every budget exist. The testing is easy and painless, too. So, act today and call a hearing care professional near you to get back to hearing your best.
Joy Victory, managing editor, Healthy Hearing
Joy Victory has extensive experience editing consumer health information. Her training in particular has focused on how to best communicate evidence-based medical guidelines and clinical trial results to the public. She strives to make health content accurate, accessible and engaging to the public.
Read more about Joy.