Hearing loss is characterized by the sudden or gradual decrease in noise perception. Depending on the cause, hearing loss can vary in severity, from the mild form to the severe one, and it can be reversible, temporary or permanent. Hearing loss can affect all age groups, but, as incidence, it occupies the 3rd spot as the most common chronic conditions affecting seniors. This condition affects up to 40% of people over 65 and up to 80% of people over 85. When hearing loss occurs, the patient might not be aware of this issue, especially when the condition happens gradually. It is very important to point out that the earlier hearing loss is diagnosed, the higher the recovery chances, so it should not be neglected or underestimated. Everyone should be aware of the first signs and symptoms of hearing loss, because the more you wait, the more your daily life will be affected.
The first symptom experienced when hearing loss occurs is difficulty hearing what goes on around you and what other people are saying. You might not be able to make out background noises or feel that the people you are talking to are mumbling indiscernibly. Carrying a conversation becomes harder and harder, especially when there are more than two people involved. The experts at Sandia Hearing Aid Center point out that the first signs can be quite subtle and the problem is oftentimes more obvious for friends and family than for the one affected.
Patients find themselves asking people to repeat themselves, misunderstanding the topic of conversation, or replacing their phones more often because they blame it all on a technical issue. Another tell-tell sign is turning up the TV or listening to music at a higher volume than usual.
The first, not sounds are misunderstood. For example, you could hear everything just fine, and only have trouble making out children’s and women’s voices, which are higher pitched. The sounds S and F also become harder to hear.
Apart from difficulty hearing, physical discomfort is also quite common. People who have trouble hearing might also experience:
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
- Ear ache
- Ear pus or other secretions; these are caused by the injuries or infections causing hearing loss
Although subtler and not necessarily specific to hearing loss, the following symptoms will also appear if the patient has been experiencing the condition for a long time:
- Avoiding conversations and social interaction. Because making out what people are saying becomes more difficult, tiresome and stressful, you might want to avoid social events altogether and feel the need to isolate yourself.
- Depression – many adults can experience depression because hearing loss affects their social life.
The importance of a hearing test
Because hearing loss symptoms are not obvious in personal conversations or closed environments, your general practitioner might not be able to realize your condition and refer you to a specialist straight away. For this reason, you should schedule a hearing test as soon as possible and receive appropriate care.