Recognizing the Most Common Signs of Hearing Loss

January 8, 2021
Recognizing the Most Common Signs of Hearing Loss

Do you or someone you know have hearing loss? Let’s find out.

Did you know that hearing loss affects one in three people who are over the age of 60, an occurrence that increases to one in two by age 75? 1 Whether brought on by aging itself, environmental conditions, or genetic predisposition, hearing loss will likely affect each of us at one time or another. But how might you know that you could have hearing loss? Glad you asked.

Thanks to our friends at the American Academy of Audiology, we’re able to share with you these five most-common signs of hearing loss. See if you or someone you know demonstrates these behaviors.

  • “Can you say that again?” – Asking someone to repeat what they’ve said is often a sign that they didn’t hear it clearly. Was the person not speaking clearly, were there noise distractions nearby, or was the listener simply not paying attention? All are possible explanations for the request to repeat, but ongoing requests like this during a conversation could be a sign of hearing loss.
  • “I’m sorry—I can’t understand what you’re saying.” – Watch for signs of straining to understand what is being said, usually accompanied by a strained or otherwise intense facial expression and a possible cocking of one’s ear toward the speaker. When the speaker begins to almost-comically enunciate each word said and the listener still doesn’t understand, it could be a sign of hearing loss.
  • “Can we turn down that background noise?” – Whether there’s light music playing, a television is on, or even some level of appliance “white noise” occurring, that competing sound can sometimes reveal an individual is struggling with the onset of hearing loss. While it’s reasonable that competing sound can make it difficult for anyone to carry on a comfortable conversation, if one particular individual seems to be struggling, that could bear investigating with a hearing care professional.
  • “Wait—I didn’t get that last part.” – Some hearing loss can occur in an intermittent fashion, often pointing to a situation where a listener cannot hear certain tones or amplitudes (remember those childhood hearing tests where we raised our hand to acknowledge varying “beeps” and “boops?”) Throughout our lives, we are subject to situations where ear damage can occur and result in our inability to hear certain sounds. Again, this is best diagnosed by a hearing care professional.
  • “Why is it turned up so loud?!” – This is what others will ask, almost frantically, when in the company of an individual who is experiencing hearing trouble. Loud music, television, phone volume, and other device sounds are one of the most typical signs of hearing loss. Sure, some just like it loud (which can cause and contribute to ongoing loss of hearing) but others might discover that they need it loud.

Hearing loss is a highly individual experience; none of us experience it in exactly the same way and each of us tends to respond to it differently, too. Denying difficulty in hearing only prolongs and exacerbates the situation. For many of us who are aging, it’s one of life’s realities but it’s one we can manage successfully if we accept and address it sooner rather than later.

If you or someone you know is showing the signs of possible hearing loss, take charge of the matter by arranging to see a hearing health specialist soon. Today, there are treatments and technologies that can help you with your daily interactions and you might even find there are methods to help you once again hear what you’ve been missing.

1 National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicating Disorders (NIDCD)

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