Triangular sign with an exclamation point in front of blue background

If you have hearing loss, you would think it would be obvious, right?

Well, that’s precisely the issue; many people presume it would. Unfortunately, while severe or sudden hearing loss is easy to detect, mild to moderate progressive hearing loss can be far too subtle to detect. That’s the reason why, on average, people will wait more than five years from the onset of symptoms to seek help.

Think of hearing loss as a gradual leak in a tire. It’s challenging to detect the everyday changes, and it’s only when the tire becomes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you choose to take action.

Regrettably, while tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be partly recovered, but the earlier you deal with your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll regain.

So how can you determine the signs and symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Here are several of the hidden signs that indicate you should consider a hearing assessment.

1. Difficulty hearing particular sounds

Oftentimes people believe that hearing loss impacts all types of sounds. Therefore, if you can hear some sounds normally, you presume you can hear all sounds normally.

Don’t get caught up into this manner of reasoning. The reality is that hearing loss predominantly affects higher-frequency sounds. You might observe that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, as an example, because of the higher pitch of their voices.

This may lead you to think that the people you can’t hear are mumbling, when in reality, you have high-frequency hearing loss.

2. Relying on context to understand

Someone is speaking from behind you and you can’t comprehend what they’re saying unless you turn around. You are forced to rely on body language, and potentially lip reading, for additional information to fill in the blanks.

Speech consists of a range of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the higher frequencies and vowels representing the lower frequencies. The problem for people with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants present the the majority of the meaning yet are the most difficult to hear.

If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is like reading a sentence with missing letters. In general,, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may find yourself responding inappropriately or asking people to repeat themselves often. You may also have difficulties hearing on the phone.

3. Difficulty hearing in noisy environments

With mild hearing loss, you can normally decipher what others are saying, albeit with lots of effort. Once background noise is introduced, on the other hand, the task usually becomes overwhelming.

You might discover that it’s difficult to hear in group settings or in loud environments like restaurants or social gatherings. The competing sounds and background noise are muffling your already affected hearing, making it incredibly difficult to concentrate on any single source of sound.

4. Mental Exhaustion

Finally, you may observe that you’re more exhausted than normal after work or after participation in group settings. For people with hearing loss, the continual struggle to hear, together with the effort to understand incomplete sounds, can lead to serious exhaustion, which is a non-obvious sign of hearing loss.

Hearing loss is gradual and ends up being more difficult to treat the longer you delay. If you have any of these signs and symptoms, even if they’re only mild, we strongly encourage arranging a hearing test. By acting earlier, you can preserve your hearing and stay connected to your loved ones.