A person is said to have hearing loss if their hearing abilities are less than those of someone with normal hearing, which is characterized by hearing thresholds of 20 dB or greater in both ears. Being familiar with early signs of hearing loss enables timely intervention, prevents complications, promotes emotional well-being, and supports overall health management.
What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe, or profound, and can affect one or both ears.
Through aging and/or exposure to loud noise, the nerve cells or microscopic hairs in the cochlea that carry sound signals to the brain may degrade. When fragile nerve endings are destroyed, electrical impulses cannot be transmitted effectively, which causes hearing loss.
When should you visit an audiologist and what are the five signs of hearing loss?
Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
According to statistics, one in five people with hearing loss also has tinnitus. This condition, often referred to as ringing in the ears, develops after being exposed to exceptionally loud noises (i.e gunshots, explosions).
Almost 90% of tinnitus sufferers also have hearing loss. The connection between hearing loss and tinnitus is associated with the latter’s imitation of the hearing loss pattern. This adds additional hearing concerns because tinnitus may be interpreted as a loud ringing or buzzing, especially if you have trouble hearing high frequencies.
Tinnitus should be considered an early red flag of hearing loss or another underlying medical disease.
Hearing muffled or distorted sounds
If you have a cold, hay fever, or allergies, experiencing muffled hearing may be normal because of the congestion. In this case, the muffled hearing may get better on its own. However, if you are experiencing muffled or distorted hearing without any other symptom, you need to get checked to determine the cause.
Impacted earwax may also cause distorted hearing. Ear wax buildup can occasionally result in an obstruction in the ear canal. Over time, the ear wax may cause impaction, which could then compromise or impair your hearing.
Listening challenges in background noise
It could be more difficult for you to communicate with others if you have hearing problems. It’s probable that your ears have problems blocking out outside noise if you have difficulty hearing discussions when there is background noise. The initial sign of moderate hearing loss or an auditory processing issue is linked to difficulty hearing even when there is only a small amount of background noise.
Disengaging in social gatherings
Social isolation is more likely to occur in those with hearing loss. When hearing becomes a difficulty, people usually choose to withdraw and distance themselves rather than participate in social, educational, or business settings where interaction is required. If not treated, hearing loss can lead to psychological and social problems that have an impact on one’s emotions and society.
It can be difficult to enjoy and participate in many of life’s most cherished experiences if you have hearing loss, including listening to a loved one’s voice or laughter, having deep conversations with family and friends, appreciating the sounds of nature, and watching your favorite TV shows or sporting events.
Turning up the volume higher than usual
Have you been turning up the volume of the TV, radio, or headset higher than usual? Have you experienced being asked by a family member or friend to lower the volume of the TV because it’s too loud for other people in the room?
These small nuances may be dismissible, but they may already be warning signs of hearing loss. If you notice that they are getting more frequent, you might want to get your hearing tested.
Experiencing signs of hearing loss?
Don’t ignore the signs, consult with an audiologist to get a hearing assessment.
Detecting hearing problems early can help prevent further deterioration of hearing abilities. In addition, early intervention measures can be recommended, such as hearing aids, assistive listening devices, or aural rehabilitation.
Hearing Tests in Springfield, PA
If you think that you or a loved one have early signs of hearing loss, make sure to schedule an appointment with an audiologist to get your hearing tested.
PA Center for Hearing and Balance offers comprehensive hearing tests in Springfield PA and nearby communities.