Signs of Hearing Loss You Shouldn’t Ignore


You might think having hearing loss would be obvious – not being able to hear the TV or the sound of a neighbor knocking on your door seems as something you will notice right away.

But hearing loss is not always so easily perceived. It can show up unexpectedly (and you can even overcompensate in other ways to lessen the effects). According to Dr. Gavriel Kohlbergassistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, hearing loss is truly under-diagnosed nationwide, making it also under-treated.

Some of these “regular” annoyances that you deal with on a daily basis may actually be signs that you are losing your hearing. Here, experts share signs that you may be suffering from hearing loss.

Having to ask people to repeat themselves.

According to Dr. Kareem Tawfik, assistant professor of otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, one of the most common signs of hearing loss is constantly having to ask loved ones to repeat themselves during normal conversation.

Be careful if you think you’re asking your loved ones to recite what they just said more often than usual. You can even ask your friends and family for advice if you think you’re constantly asking them to repeat what they just said.

You cannot hear background noises.

Kohlberg noted that if you’re having trouble hearing environmental noises, you’ll probably want to have your hearing checked.

Environmental noises can include things like chirping birds, rustling leaves and beeping kitchen appliances, he said.

Pay attention if you have trouble hearing certain background noises expected on your next nature walk or the next time you do things around the house.

You feel a ringing in your ears.

“A lot of hearing impaired people also suffer from a condition called tinnitus,” Tawfik said.

Tinnitus is usually associated with ringing in the ears, but it can also be ringing in the ears or “any number of different sounds that are not actually present in the environment but occur as brain’s response to sound deprivation in the ears. ”

Hearing loss is the most common reason people have tinnitus, and tinnitus is a widespread condition — more than 50 million people in the United States suffer from it, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

You find yourself relying on lip reading.

Whether they know it or not, many people with hearing loss rely on lip reading to understand what those around them are saying.

If you seem to have trouble understanding someone when they’re not facing you (and you can’t see their lips) or when they’re wearing a mask, you might want to take a hearing test.

Tawfik noted that many of his patients only noticed their hearing loss from wearing the mask during the height of the pandemic.

Vladimir Vladimirov via Getty Images

If you think you have hearing loss, you should make an appointment with an audiologist.

You have difficulty hearing in noisy environments.

“The first environment where people notice hearing difficulties is in noisy environments,” Tawfik said. Think crowded restaurants, bars or cocktail parties.

He noted that unlike a quiet space where you listen to someone one-on-one, these busy places are considered complex listening environments. They will immediately bring to light any difficulty someone is having with their hearing.

In these places, it is also more difficult to rely on lip reading, which, as mentioned above, is something that many people with hearing loss rely on.

Take special care if your hearing loss is worse in one ear.

According to Tawfik, if your hearing loss is worse in one ear, it may be a sign of a different problem. “Typically, with age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss, we expect to see hearing loss that affects both ears symmetrically,” he said. “So when it doesn’t fit that pattern, we start wondering if something else is going on.”

He noted that hearing loss in one ear could be a sign of a benign tumor. Also, any fluctuating hearing loss (hearing that goes in and out) or any hearing loss associated with dizziness could be a sign of a chronic inner ear condition, he added.

In these cases, you’ll want to contact a doctor as soon as possible so they can begin treatment.

Is your hearing loss sudden?

“Rarely [do] people have sudden hearing loss in one or both ears,” Kohlberg said. Generally, hearing loss is gradual.

When hearing loss is sudden, you should have your hearing checked within two weeks, he noted. Sudden hearing loss can be treated, but only if caught early.

Take precautions to protect your ears.

“The most common reason for having hearing loss is age-related hearing loss,” Tawfik said. But there are also genetic and environmental factors that can contribute to the development of the disease.

People who have certain genetic markers and who have a history of loud noise exposure (such as musicians or certain types of construction workers) are at increased risk of hearing loss over time, making it crucial for these people (and for all of us, in fact) to “limit the duration of exposure to loud noise,” he said.

It’s important for people to prevent hearing loss by using noise protection when they know they’re going to be in noisy environments, Tawfik added.

This may mean investing in earplugs, getting earmuffs, or if you’re exposed to loud noises often, you” could also consider getting custom ear tips which probably do the best job of blocking them out. sound,” said Tawfik.As with any condition, it is easier to prevent than to treat.

Finally, don’t neglect your symptoms.

Kohlberg said that around 30 million people across the country have some kind of hearing loss – and it largely affects older people.

He and Tawfik stressed that if you think you’re losing your hearing, it’s important to see an audiologist for a hearing test. They can determine a plan just for you, whether it’s hearing aids, cochlear implants or something else.


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