Signs of Hearing Loss

There are both subtle and more obvious signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is poorly understood generally as most people think hearing loss is about volume. However its more a about clarity.

People with hearing loss can hear the voices, they just don’t understand what is being said because the voices lack clarity. The most common type is natural age related hearing loss called Presbycusis. Because it occurs gradually over many year the signs of hearing loss may be difficult to notice. We have summarised some of the commons signs to be aware of.

Hearing loss cupping ear
Common signs of hearing loss

What are common signs of hearing loss?

  • Feeling like other people are mumbling and not speaking clearly. So speech and other sounds seems muffled.
  • You have difficulty separating the sound of words against background noise.
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially in background noise or in a crowd of people
  • People saying the television is too loud when you think it’s fine and possibly even using subtitles to help follow what’s being said.
  • Trouble hearing the consonant sounds.
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly.
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio.
  • Withdrawal from conversations.
  • Avoidance of some social settings.
  • Speaking with an unusually loud voice.

Just like our eyesight, hearing has its own natural ageing process. Similarly the majority of people experience gradual hearing loss through the course of life.

The Perception of Mumbling

A major sign of hearing loss is the perception that every one is mumbling or speaking unclearly. It is usually a symptom of a hearing loss in the higher frequencies.

High frequency hearing loss first

Due to a decline in the hearing sensitivity in the high frequencies it becomes more difficult to distinguish the high frequency sounds of speech such as the consonants. These speech sounds are not only higher in pitch, but they carry relatively little energy. With our English language it just so happens that such speech sounds occur at the beginning and ends of words and carry most of the speech information. So it becomes difficult to distinguish “fan” from “van” for example. Such unvoiced sounds as “F” or “V” are produced with the lips and teeth and don’t involve the vocal cords. Being lower in energy content they dissipate over distance and get masked over by background noise easily. You can hear that someone is speaking, but just can’t quite make out what’s being said.

As a result it can lead to some humorous or even embarrassing misinterpretations of what’s said.

hearing loss comic
humorous hearing loss misinterpretation

Low Frequency Speech Sounds

Lower frequency speech sounds including vowels such as “o” and “Ar” and “i” are produced with the vocal cords and carry more energy. They can be heard across distance better especially because the low frequency hearing sensitivity is better. So you perceive that someone is mumbling or muttering more than they actually are. i.e. you just can’t hear them properly.

Hear the voice, haven’t a clue

As I said, most people with acquired hearing loss can hear the voice, but they miss the consonant sounds in speech and therefore everything sounds mumbled. The reason for this is that most acquired (happens after birth) hearing loss happens in the high frequency areas of hearing. Those areas are responsible for hearing consonant sounds. So those sounds are imperative for the understanding of words. Words without consonants are muffled, no sharp edges.

What you need to ask yourself

You need to ask yourself the following questions, but, you need to give honest answers. So these questions can help you to identify common warning signs of hearing loss:

  • Do you have difficulty following conversations?
  • Do you ask others to repeat themselves?
  • Do you complain that people mumble or speak too fast?
  • It is difficult for you to hear and understand women and children?
  • Do you have ringing in your ears?
  • Do you have a favorite ear?
  • Do you have trouble hearing on the telephone?
  • Do you find yourself turning up the volume of your television?
  • Do others complain that you keep the volume of your television too loud?
  • Do you avoid noisy places?
  • Do you ever feel embarrassed about misunderstanding what others say to you?
  • Do you feel tired after listening in challenging environments?

If you answer yes to two or more questions simply contact us today to book a Free Hearing Test.

Call 1800 020 406 or use our online booking form at: https://harmonyhearing.com.au/book-an-appointment/

For more quality information about hearing loss please see https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/hearing-loss#symptoms

We look forward to hearing from you.