It can be difficult to recognise the signs of hearing problems because age-related hearing loss is usually a gradual process. It isn’t painful or physically uncomfortable in any way, it’s simply caused by natural wear and tear on the hair cells of the inner ear. These cells transmit signals to the brain, which then interprets those signals as sound. So as these hair cells deteriorate, so does your hearing. More than 11 million people in the UK are living with hearing loss, so it’s important to be able to understand the signs of hearing impairment. There are several key indicators to be aware of:
1. Friends, family and perhaps even co-workers will talk more loudly around an individual with hearing loss. They may not even realise they are doing so, but will have adapted the volume of their speech over time to cope with the gradual change in hearing.
2. The volume of the television or radio is usually turned right up, perhaps even to the point that other people complain about it being too loud.
3. A hearing impaired individual often asks people to repeat themselves, or those around them may find themselves having to repeat something several times before it’s acknowledged.
4. To someone living with hearing loss, it can seem like everyone mumbles these days. In reality, they are losing the ability to distinguish certain sounds in speech, which makes it sound as though those around them are not enunciating clearly.
5. Due to difficulties in understanding speech, someone with hearing problems usually prefers to face the person they are talking to. Watching the speaker’s lips and facial expressions helps them understand what is being said.
6. Relying on watching a speaker’s face can make telephone conversations extremely difficult. They can be extremely frustrating for both parties, which may mean they are eventually avoided altogether.
7. Individuals with hearing loss may choose to avoid noisy environments, including social gatherings. High levels of background noise can make it even more difficult to pick out what a single person is saying, so even a conversation around a busy dinner table can feel very isolating.
Although hearing loss affects an individual physically, the subsequent impact on communication and socialising means it has significant psychological consequences as well. It can be an incredibly isolating and frustrating condition to live with, as well as increasing the likelihood of developing depression and even dementia.
If you feel that you or someone you know may relate to one or more of these signs, it could be linked to hearing loss. The sooner a hearing loss is addressed, the easier it is to correct, so why not get in touch today?