Are you struggling to hear the phone ring? Do your colleagues or relatives say you’re shouting at them down the phone? Has your TV volume slowly become raised to an astronomical level? Do you sometimes fail to notice when people are talking to you? Well, you could be one of the 37.5 million US adults who are experiencing a form of hearing loss.
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss is used to describe both partial and full loss of hearing. Hearing loss can be experienced by people of any age but is most common in those over the age of 60 or who have been exposed to damaging environmental factors such as loud noises. For many people who experience hearing loss, the process is extremely gradual, meaning that they often don’t notice their hearing loss until it starts to have quite a significant impact on their lives or until someone else points it out to them.
Signs that you could have hearing loss
In the vast majority of cases, hearing loss does not happen overnight, which means a person may have been living with a degree of hearing loss for many years before it becomes problematic enough to come to their attention. If you think you may have hearing loss, or think that you may know someone who does, then here are some behaviours to look out for.
- Asking people to repeat themselves
In noisy or crowded situations, it’s normal to occasionally need to ask someone to repeat themselves, but if you find yourself constantly asking people to repeat what they have just said, even in quiet scenarios, then you could be experiencing hearing loss.
- Having your TV volume high
A high TV volume is often one of the most obvious indications that a person has trouble hearing. If your TV volume is at a level that other people find uncomfortable, then you may be having trouble hearing.
- Struggling to find your phone or pick someone out in a crowd
Hearing loss isn’t always just about volume, but also things like being able to locate the source of a sound. If you often struggle to find your phone when you hear it ringing, or can’t pick out a person calling you in a crowd, then his could signify hearing loss,
- Subconsciously lip reading
The human brain is extremely clever and will make compensations for a person who is hard of hearing. One such compensation is to have the person subconsciously lip read. If you notice someone focusing very hard on your face when you are talking, or if you notice yourself staring intently at people who are talking to you, then this could be an indication that you are lip reading.
What causes hearing loss?
Finding out that you have hearing loss can be very scary, but it’s important to realise that you are not alone and there are a number of hearing devices out there that will help you to retain your hearing for as long as possible. Some of the most common causes of hearing loss include:
- Getting older
Sadly, one of the most common causes of hearing loss is simply getting older. As we age the hairs and nerve cells in our inner ear can deteriorate in a process known as Age-Related Hearing Loss.
- Having a build-up of earwax
Earwax is designed to protect our ears but as we get older we often tend to start producing too much of it. As ear wax builds up in the ear it quite simply stops sound from entering, causing hearing loss. The good news is, that earwax can be easily and safely removed by a hearing specialist.
- Certain medical conditions
Ear cancers, tumors, and infections can all also contribute to hearing loss.
- Loud noises
And finally, loud noises. We all know that listening to loud music when we are younger can have a negative impact on our hearing as we get older, but any loud noise can also damage our hearing. Working with heavy machinery, power tools, at night-clubs or bars, can all be damaging over time, and so it’s important to wear the correct protective equipment.
What to do if you think you are experiencing hearing loss?
If you’ve been reading this article and now think that you could have hearing loss, then the first thing to do is to contact your GP or a HIS (hearing instrument specialist). From here, a specialist will be able to diagnose if you have hearing loss, and will then be able to help you find a suitable hearing instrument, such as a hearing aid, to help you.