Whatever we experience in life is our own version of normal.
People who miss the early signs of hearing loss often experience a gradual decline in their hearing until it’s too significant to ignore.
Since this didn’t happen overnight, people often don’t realize how much they are missing in everyday conversation.
It is not until people are fit with hearing aids that they understand the magnitude of the loss they’ve experienced for so many years.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
There are a few main culprits regarding the cause of hearing loss – some are easier to identify depending on your circumstances and lifestyle.
- Noise-induced hearing loss – You guessed it. Hearing loss can be caused by a single exposure to loud noise (sudden hearing loss) or can happen gradually over time with daily exposure to moderate noise.
- Age-related hearing loss – As we age, so do our hair cells that are responsible for receiving and sending auditory signals to the brain. This is a natural part of the aging process.
- Ototoxic medications – Some medication is classified as ototoxic, which can cause hearing loss.
So, how do you tell if you’re losing your hearing?
This article will explain the most common first signs of hearing loss in adults. If you have trouble hearing, then these signs might sound familiar.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
The first signs of hearing loss can easily go undetected, as you or your loved one can learn to live with a hearing loss to a certain extent.
When these signs surface, act and prevent any further harm:
- Turning up the volume of electronics, including the TV and radio
- Asking people to repeat themselves
- Accusing others of mumbling
- Avoiding crowds or larger gatherings
Issues With Background Noise
Another common clue that someone has a hearing loss is that they struggle to communicate when they are in noisy environments.
For example, it might be that when they go out for dinner at a busy restaurant, they cannot communicate effectively with a loved one due to background noise.
They also might find that when they are at home talking to friends and family, they struggle to understand others’ voices while playing music.
Ringing in the Ears
Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, is often the first sign that there may be hearing loss. Ninety percent of people who report ringing in their ears have a hearing loss.
Tinnitus is commonly reported as a high-pitched noise often described as intermittent buzzing, hissing, or ringing.
Many of these symptoms occur during everyday activities and may be hard to identify in yourself or others.
If the hearing loss is significant, you may recognize the following signs of hearing loss:
- Mumbled speech
- Being asked a question and responding with an answer that doesn’t make sense
- Not responding when being called by name
- Loss of balance
- Cognitive decline (e.g., dementia)
Difficulty Hearing on the Telephone
When identifying the first signs of hearing loss, people often report that they have difficulty hearing on the telephone. Typically, this is because they cannot see the speaker’s face and read visual cues.
Another sign of hearing loss is when the person experiencing it has their phone set to come through the speaker to hear the person on the other end of the phone.
Loss of High-Frequency Sounds
Adult-onset hearing loss involves high-frequency hearing loss, which means high-pitched sounds become harder to hear. High-frequency hearing loss is common.
Conversations may become more challenging due to difficulty hearing high frequencies.
Music that you once found enjoyable may seem like it isn’t quite the same; you may notice some notes missing.
Hearing loss is very common. Over 25% of people ages 65-75 have a hearing loss, and over 50% of people over the age of 75 have a hearing loss.
If left untreated, these numbers will continue to grow.
What You Can Do
Preventing the signs of hearing loss has been a top priority at Cornerstone Audiology.
If hearing loss is diagnosed early, treatment options are greatly increased. The first thing everyone should do if they recognize the above early signs of hearing loss is to get their hearing tested.
A hearing assessment is a painless way to identify the current status of your hearing ability.
Our audiologists perform an otoscopy (visual inspection of the outer ear and eardrum) and a tympanometry (test to assess the ear canal).
This initial assessment will help rule out any temporary hearing loss caused by an ear infection or blockage.
Pure tone audiometry is also performed to find a threshold at multiple frequencies. Word understanding testing helps us to determine the patient’s ability to process speech at different loudness levels.
Testing regularly gives us a starting point to compare future tests with and evaluate the rate at which your hearing is declining or improving.
Hearing loss can be so gradual and is often unnoticed, so it is important to have an annual hearing assessment, as it can worsen quickly with time if left untreated.
If your hearing test result indicates the need for hearing aids, our experts can support you with your decision for the best next steps in your journey to better hearing.
Where to Get Your Hearing Tested
At Cornerstone Audiology, we are proud to be the most trusted hearing specialists in the West Texas community, after serving thousands of local people in Lubbock and Snyder.
We are dedicated to supporting and educating our communities on the side effects and pitfalls of undiagnosed hearing loss.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above signs, then please don’t hesitate to schedule your hearing assessment now, or call our offices with any questions you may have.