Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

Peter Lucier, HIS

Do you have hearing loss? You may and not even know it. Hearing loss often happens slowly overtime. So subtly in fact that over years, your brain rationalizes the loss as it happens incrementally. This makes the loss hard to self-diagnose. However, here are a few signs that you may have hearing loss. 

Types of hearing loss

The symptoms of hearing loss depend on the type of hearing loss you have, as well as the degree of loss. It can occur in one ear (unilateral) or in both ears (bilateral). For instance, a person with mild hearing loss in both ears will have a different experience with hearing loss than someone with severe hearing loss in one ear.

People also experience different ranges of hearing loss affecting the ability to perceive different tones and pitches:

High frequency hearing loss: Someone with high-frequency, as common with hearing loss caused by loud noise or advanced age hearing loss will struggle to hear high pitches such as alarms and the chirping of birds.

Mid-frequency hearing loss: Someone with the much rarer mid frequency hearing loss, will struggle to hear mid-range sounds such as parts of speech or media. 

Low-frequency hearing loss: Equally rare, low frequency hearing loss In some cases, it is genetic and present at birth, while other times acquired after a childhood illness like the measles. The most common cause is a rare disease which effects hearing and balance called Meniere’s disease – an autoimmune disorder. This makes it hard to hear lower pitches in speech as well as the low rumble of the engine of a car, truck, or airplane. Meanwhile, music may sound tinny, as low frequency hearing loss may affect the ability to detect the bass in sound.

Identifying the general signs of hearing loss

You may have had hearing loss for years and not even know it – however, this doesn’t mean it’s not effecting you. Unaddressed hearing loss can result in a wide range of symptoms ranging from emotional, physical and cognitive. This can include, rifts in your relationships at home and at work, chronic depression, anxiety, sleep issues, social isolation, loneliness, cognitive decline, reduced mobility and a higher risk for falls and accidents leading to hospitalization.

To avoid the dangerous and often irreversible effects of hearing loss, it’s important to make sure you monitor for these common signs:

  • Others complain that you turn the TV up, even when it sounds just fine to you.
  • It becomes a regular struggle to follow conversation and speech, especially in noisy environments
  • You struggle to hear people over the phone
  • You feel as though you can hear someone but not understand them. 
  • You struggle to identify the direction a sound comes from- this is known as localization
  • You find you must ask people to repeat themselves so often it becomes the normal.
  • You feel as if you are overly dependent on a significant other or family member to help you hear and interpret in the world.
  • Strained communication makes you feel as if you want to avoid most social situations
  • Social events which used to give you energy now feel exhausting. This is often called listening fatigue.
  • Your ears ring at random times and often feel difficult to escape. This is known as tinnitus.

Sensorineural Hearing loss

The most common cause of hearing loss is sensorineural, affecting the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear. This type of inner ear damage is irreversible leaving the affected individual with lasting loss and makes up 90% of all case. It can be caused by exposure to loud noise, impact to the head, infection, chronic circulation diseases such as diabetes or hypertension, advanced age, or even certain medications. When the cells of the inner ear do not receive enough blood or become damaged, they can become damaged or even die, leaving behind degrees of hearing loss.

Addressing Hearing Loss

If you suspect you may be dealing with hearing loss, it’s important that you address it as soon as possible. The first step is to schedule a hearing exam with us. Because hearing loss is so difficult to self-diagnose, look to the people in your life. If they suggest that you may have a hearing loss, there is most likely one present. Find out and then take the steps to seek treatment. Schedule your next hearing exam with us today!