Signs of hearing loss

hearing-lossHearing loss can develop gradually and can become severe before anyone realizes what's happening. Early recognition is important in getting treatment for the hearing impaired person before the loss interferes with their lifestyle.

If you or a loved one displays any of these signs of hearing loss, you should have your hearing evaluated by a hearing health professional. If your hearing loss is the type that can be corrected by medical treatment or surgery, the professional will recommend one of these solutions. If not, he or she may recommend that you try a hearing aid.

Simple Signs: Saying "huh" & "what" more often.
Asking people to repeat what they've just said.
Turning the radio or TV volume up high.
Feeling that others are always mumbling or not speaking clearly.

More Complex Signs:

  • Speech that sounds flat.
  • Slurring or dropping the endings off words.
  • Avoiding groups and gatherings.
  • Less TV watching, telephone use, or small talk conversations.
  • More use of eyes, always watching.
  • More silence and withdrawal.
  • More misunderstandings and arguments.
  • Inappropriate responses to questions.
  • Punch lines often missed.
  • More daydreaming or being "gone."
  • Jerking head around to locate speaker.
  • Startled or perplexed looks.
  • Impatience with interruptions.
  • Increased irritability and sensitivity (caused by fatigue from straining to hear.)

Reactions to Hearing Loss

Often gradual hearing loss can be very frustrating to the hearing impaired person because they may not realize what is happening to them and therefore don't seek professional help. Some situations that may develop before the hearing loss is discovered include:
Social Withdrawal:
Not being able to hear what is going on may cause the person to withdraw from situations which might prove embarrassing because of failure to understand. Suddenly, they no longer want to go out with friends or to family gatherings.

"Filling In the Blanks":
People who are hard of hearing will often only catch some of the words being spoken to them. They then "fill in the blanks" with what they think they missed. When the hearing impaired person responds inappropriately, family members may think they are getting confused or forgetful.

Because they can only hear part of what is said, they may suspect that others are talking about them or that portions of the conversations are spoken deliberately soft so they cannot hear them.

"Dominating the Conversation":
If they can keep the conversation centered on them so they can control it, they are not so likely to be embarrassed by a mistake.

Loneliness and Unhappiness:
Though everyone wishes for quiet now and then, enforced silence can be boring and even frightening. People with a hearing loss often feel left out of things. Sometimes they begin to feel sorry for themselves, misunderstood and neglected.