Hearing loss doesn’t usually arrive overnight. It’s almost always gradual – it’s unlikely you’ll wake up one morning unable to hear a thing (although you don’t need us to tell you that if you do, get to a doctor as soon as possible). Most hearing losses are much more subtle than that and usually involve a gradual decline over time. For this reason, it can be difficult to detect in normal day-to-day life.
Action on Hearing Loss state that 11 million people in the UK live with a hearing loss – that’s one in six of us! Hearing loss is probably more common than you might think, so we’ve put together five common signs to look out for if you think a loved one has hearing loss.
1. They might struggle to hear on the phone
We all find telephone calls a challenge from time to time – bad lines, sketchy signal and background noise can all make it tough to hear the person at the other end. But if a regular telephone call is becoming hard work, it could be time to gently suggest they have a hearing test. In the short term, video call services such as FaceTime or Skype could help with clarity and understanding.
2. They’re turning up the volume on TVs and radios
Remember the shock you get on a Monday morning when you start the car up and suddenly realise how loud you had the radio on Friday night? Having the volume that loud for very short periods once in a while is fine, but if you’re frequently visiting a relative and the volume on their TV and radio is raised, it’s worth keeping an eye on or bringing their hearing up in conversation.
3. They keep asking you to repeat yourself
A coffee date can quickly turn awkward if you’re having trouble understanding each other. If you’ve noticed your nearest and dearest frequently asking you to repeat yourself it’s possibly a sign they have hearing loss. It can be frustrating for both parties, but always be calm and understanding.
4. They avoid social situations or noisy environments
Hearing loss can develop into loneliness, as sufferers begin to stay at home rather than risk a social situation where they will inevitably miss out on snippets of conversation or even miss-hear and fear they’ll say the wrong thing. People suffering with hearing loss may find that crowded environments with background noise are the most difficult places to hear speech, and those who were quite the outgoing can quickly become more insular.
5. They have difficulty understanding consonant sounds
Sensorineural hearing loss (which includes age-related hearing loss) causes distortion and loss of clarity. Essentially, softer sounds such as ‘f’ and ’s’ will be harder to hear in a conversation. This can be a tricky one to spot in other people, but you might come to recognise that you’re frequently asked to repeat yourself when using softer sounding words.
Book a free hearing test and assess your ear health
It’s important to identify hearing loss as early as possible to ensure you’re getting the help and support you need with your hearing care. So whether you’re worried about your own hearing, a relative’s hearing, or simply need some ear care advice, you can call our friendly team at The Hearing Care Partnership on 0800 52 00 546 to book an appointment with our expert audiologists. You can also pop into your local THCP practice or book an appointment online.