5 early signs of hearing loss

  Posted September 5, 2019

Hearing loss is often a sneaky thief. It can creep up on you gradually, stealing your hearing in such small increments you suddenly find yourself straining to understand conversation and missing some of your favorite sounds.

How can you tell if you have hearing loss? Only a qualified hearing health professional can tell you for sure, but here are five signs you may not be hearing your best.

Common sounds have seemingly disappeared

Take a moment and think—when was the last time you heard birds singing or crickets chirping? Do you hear the car’s turn signal when it’s indecating? Are you having trouble hearing your wife or grandchildren when they speak?

These higher pitched sounds and voices register at frequencies of 2,000 Hz or higher, which those with high frequency hearing loss have trouble hearing.

Understanding conversation in crowded places is increasingly difficult

Another symptom of high-frequency hearing loss is the inability to distinguish speech in noisy environments. As a result, you may find yourself avoiding social situations like family get-togethers or impromptu celebrations with friends at local gathering places where you’re forced to concentrate on understanding the conversation.

You strain to listen—and it’s exhausting

If you find you’re straining to listen to the conversation and are more exhausted than usual at the end of the day, you may have listening fatigue Like a fading radio state or bad phone connection, you have difficulty following the conversation.

Most people are surprised to learn that hearing is a brain activity. When your auditory system is compromised, it takes a lot more effort for your brain to process the sound it receives from your inner ear. In effect, the signal is broken.

Your ears ring constantly

Both age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss can cause tinnitus, a condition also known as ringing in the ears. In these two situations, researchers believe tinnitus may be the brain’s way of filling in the missing frequencies it is no longer receiving from the auditory system.

What’s the solution?

High-frequency hearing loss is typically a type of sensorineural hearing loss, which means hair cells in the inner ear have been damaged. These hair cells are responsible for converting sounds into signals and sending them along the auditory nerve to the brain for interpretation. In addition to age, this type of hearing loss can be caused by noise, disease, infection or genetics.

Although sensorineural hearing loss isn’t curable, it can be treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Diagnosis and treatment is important because untreated hearing loss has been linked to mental health conditions such as anger, depression, anxiety, isolation, frustration, loneliness and decreased cognitive function.

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