Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

Reed Fenton, HIS Hearing Loss

Reed Fenton, HIS

Hearing loss is a debilitating condition. It is growing fast and has risen to become one of the top three health concerns in the United States asides from cancer and diabetes.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) states that there are close to 40 million Americans that suffer from hearing loss.

What is equally alarming is that people that have already had hearing assessments wait an average of 10 years before following their prescribed treatment. Neglect of hearing impairment compounds the condition and delays positive outcomes.

The nature of hearing loss makes it difficult to discern and is often referred to as an “invisible disability”. Considering its prevalence and stigma how can we help ourselves and our loved ones recognise its symptoms?

VOLUME

It is quite natural at the onset of hearing loss for us to compensate in ways we are quite unaware of at the time. We are very adaptable creatures and it is a necessary attribute.

However, as we compensate and neglect symptoms, we risk damaging our hearing permanently. The most common sign of hearing difficulties can be found within your home environment.

Many of us like to listen to the radio, podcasts, stream video or watch TV. Often, we indulge in these activities whilst cooking, cleaning or organizing our personal spaces.

They are also shared activities involving family and friends, and this is when symptoms can first be spotted. If the volume needs to be constantly adjusted up and starts to affect the comfort level of others, a hearing assessment is required.

REPETITION

Another technique that is often used by people that suffer from hearing decline is constantly having to ask people to repeat themselves and to speak louder, more concisely and/or slower. This request occurs more frequently in places that have a higher level of background noise. Intimate conversations, whether public or private, become increasingly difficult.

SPECIFIC SOUNDS

According to a study by The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America there are also very specific sounds the hearing impaired had difficulty recognizing thereby negatively impacting their ability to communicate and comprehend normal speech.

The /s/ and /z/ sounds which can signify the plural forms of nouns, the /ʃ/ exemplified by the word “sheep”, the /t/ sound found in the word “take”, and the  /ʒ/ sound that is found in words like “usually” and “pleasure”.

The above mentioned is just a sampling of some of the consonant sounds that become very distorted for people with hearing loss resulting in miscommunications and frustrations. 

MUFFLED SPEECH AND SOUNDS

We must address noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) as well as we all live in a world that is subject to ever increasing levels of noise pollution form our environment and our own daily practices. NIHL can be the result of long-time exposure to high decibel (dBA – measurement of sound) levels or short intense and extreme bursts of sound like fireworks or gunshots.

A constant ringing sound in our ears could indicate tinnitus but there are other effects as well that we need to make a note of. When we are in an environment which is crisscrossed by different sounds and noisy backgrounds, the person suffering from NIHL will have the greatest difficulty filtering out “important” sound like speech and having to combat received sounds that are distorted and hard to distinguish.

ISOLATION

Due to a myriad of factors and circumstance mentioned earlier many of those that suffer hearing impairment tend to withdraw. The physical and mental fatigue take their toll after a while and unfortunately, instead of seeking or following up on treatments and hearing devices, they succumb to depression and isolation.

Once the frustration of communication with close friend and family members or work colleagues set in the cycle feeds upon itself. Increased isolation and decreased communication can break down cognitive function and negatively impacts the hearing process from the ability to heal and maintain its health. 

Don’t allow yourself or someone you care about to be invisible when suffering from hearing loss. At House of Hearing we are here to support your needs and your overall wellbeing is our goal. Give us a call and we can help you starting with your first appointment, in forging a healthier, happier hearing experience!