Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors – disease, cerumen (earwax) buildup, heredity, and ear infections, amongst others. However, hearing loss in adults over 30 years of age is usually caused by the aging process and over-exposure to loud noises.
As we grow older, our hearing slowly deteriorates. This slow process can make it difficult for us to determine if we have a hearing impairment. Consequently, it can be difficult to determine if we need to invest in hearing aids or if there is another solution available. Here are some common indications that you may need hearing aids.
Signs of hearing loss
Many of the signs of hearing loss are related to changes in behavioral patterns. As you grow older, it may seem like everyone constantly mumbles and speaks too softly. This can lead to a variety of different changes in behavior. Here are some common signs of hearing loss to help you determine if you need hearing aids.
- Complaining that people are mumbling
- Have difficulty understanding and participating in group conversations
- Prefer the TV/radio louder than others (see hearing impaired tv settings)
- Miss calls because you cannot hear the telephone ring
- Trouble hearing and talking on the telephone
- Frequently ask others to repeat what they said
- Have trouble understanding people when they are not looking directly at you
- Have trouble following movies or TV programs
- Become more impatient, irritable, and easily frustrated by social interactions
- Avoid social occasions and public events
Do I need hearing aids?
If you experience any of the signs of hearing loss listed above, it is highly recommended that you meet with an audiologist. The single best way to determine if you need hearing aids is to see a hearing care professional. An audiologist can perform an in-person hearing test – known as an audiogram – to help determine what kind of hearing loss you have and if hearing aids are right for you.
Hearing loss can lead to a variety of social and emotional ailments that can decrease your quality of life. No one should have to suffer through hearing loss.
Why can I hear people but not understand them?
Sometimes, those with hearing loss do not have trouble hearing speech but instead have trouble understanding it.
Speech is comprised of a variety of low-, mid-, and high-pitched sounds that when combined provide clarity and meaning. Hard sounds and consonants in speech (e.g. “s, th, k, ch, f, p”) are usually higher in pitch and carry the meaning of the words. Low sounds and vowels in speech (e.g. “a” as in “awe,” or “o” as in “boot”) usually provide volume to the speech but do not help clarify the meaning.
One common type of hearing loss is one in which people have normal hearing in the low- to mid-range but hearing impairment in the higher range. A person who can hear the lower and mid-ranges can easily hear the person speaking, but not being able to hear the higher sounds in the speech can result in an inability to comprehend the speech.