Not being able to hear properly can affect the quality of your relationships, career, and health. Is someone speaking quietly or are you hard of hearing? Here’s how to tell.
The organisation Healthy Hearing point out “good indicators” that you may not be able to hear as well as you once could.
An example is noticing tinnitus, which can be descried as a ringing in the air.
Do you have difficulty hearing people on the phone? This could also be a warning sign.
And do you have to ask people to repeat themselves, as you can’t catch what they’re saying?
A feeling you can hear, “but not understand” may also suggest you’re suffering from hearing loss.
When you hear noises in the house, do you struggle to know where the sound is coming from? This too is a sign of hearing loss (known as localisation).
The most common type of hearing loss is “sensorineural hearing loss”, caused by damage to the delicate hair cells in the inner ear.
Damage to the nerve pathways that deliver sound to your brain can also contribute to sensorineural hearing loss.
As this type of hearing loss is gradual, you may not notice the slow deterioration in how clearly or how loudly you perceive sound.
“You might also find some louder sounds to be uncomfortable to listen to, especially compared to years past,” added Healthy Hearing.
People can struggle with hearing either high-pitched or low-pitched sounds, or both.
And one ear may be able to hear better than the other ear, so you may notice you lean in to a conversation with a certain ear.
Difficulties with high-pitched sounds can make certain constant sounds harder to hear; these would include: s, sh, f, v, th, f, p.
You may have stopped birds chirping outside too, even though they’re still physically there.
A hearing test involves listening out for “beep-like” sounds, speech in noise and other sounds; this is known as a pure-tone test.
Your hearing is then plotted on an audiogram that reveals the extent of hearing loss in both ears.
Permanent hearing loss can’t be restored, and properly fitted hearing aids are the best solution.
There are many types and styles available, with more discrete options now on the market.
Will hearing aids make my hearing worse?
The simple answer to this is no. “They’ll only improve your ability to communicate,” assured Healthy Hearing.
This can help ease feelings of loneliness, as you’ll be able to understand what people are saying to you over the phone and in person.
Hearing aids can also help to preserve the hearing ability you already have.
This is because untreated hearing loss can affect your ability to understand speech.