It’s not like you just wake up one day, and your hearing is gone. For most people, hearing loss comes in degrees, especially when it is related to aging. Age-related hearing loss affects about one in three people in this country. Many of them are over the age of 75 before they notice a change. Some signs show up earlier, though, and you don’t realize there is a problem right away.
The early symptoms of progressive hearing loss are subtle. Recognizing them as sooner is essential to slow down the progression of hearing loss or other health problems related to hearing loss. You can’t recognize the signs if you don’t know what they are, though. Consider these eight barely noticeable indicators that you might have hearing loss.
1. Ringing in the Ears
Okay, this isn’t exactly a subtle sign, but it is something people tend to ignore unless it’s distracting. Tinnitus, the medical name for the ringing, is a common symptom of hearing loss.
Triggers are a significant factor in tinnitus so it can be intermittent, too. For example, maybe the ringing, buzzing or roaring only happens in the morning or when you are tired.
It’s essential that you don’t ignore tinnitus because it is a symptom that something is going on with your body. It may be hearing loss, but it could also be a sign of high blood pressure, circulatory problems or trauma. You won’t know for sure until you see your doctor, though.
2. You Dread Talking on the Phone
It’s is easy to make excuses for phone issues like:
My phone is old.
I dropped my phone in water or on the ground.
It’s a new phone, and I’m just not used to it yet.
Consider why you dread using our phone. If you have the volume all the way up and can’t understand what is being said, let someone else test the phone for you. If they can hear the conversation and you can’t, your ears are the problem.
3. It Seems Like Everyone Mumbles These Days
It used to be just the kids, but lately, the lady on the TV news, your neighbor and your spouse all have taken to mumbling when they talk to you. It’s hard to imagine that everyone in your life suddenly has poor enunciation.
The more likely answer is the way you hear words is changing. Mumbling or dropped off consonants like “S” or “T” is one of the first signs that your hearing is changing.
You might not even realize that you can’t hear conversations any more until someone points out that you say “What?” a lot. Very often the people you see every day like coworkers or family are the first to notice you are struggling to hear. If someone comments on it, pay attention.
5. You Hear Some People Just Fine But Not Others
Maybe you can understand the neighbor perfectly, but when his wife joins the conversation, everything gets messed up. It’s a common sign of sensorineural hearing loss or damage to the nerves that send electrical messages to the brain.
Her voice is a higher pitch, and that’s why it isn’t as clear. You might have the same problem with your grandchild or daughter. Even technology like the microwave or an alarm can throw a loop into things. Those tones are high, as well.
6. Going Out Isn’t as Much Fun as It Used to Be
Again, there are those mumbling people, and that’s not fun. Also, being in noisy places makes understanding what people say that much harder. Something as simple as the AC popping on during dinner or the sound of people talking around you makes it impossible to hear anything.
7. You Feel More Tired Than Usual
Struggling to understand words is exhausting. Your brain has to work overtime to process what it does hear, so you are more tired the usual. You might even notice changes in your other senses. If your brain is using 110 percent of its time and energy to understand words, what’s left for your eyesight or balance? If your last eye test was normal, then the next thing to get tested is your ears.
8. That Dang TV
It is easy to blame the TV or the service provider when you have to keep turning up the volume, but if this is happening all the time, maybe it’s time for a hearing test. It can be hard to follow the dialogue on TV shows when you have hearing loss. There is the background music confusing things, for example. How about the other stuff in the room like the AC or the ceiling fan? If the volume keeps going up, then your hearing might be failing.
The good news is all it takes to know for sure is a professional hearing test. If it turns out your hearing is declining, hearing aids will get things back to normal.