Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jennifer Douberly, Au.D.

For some people, hearing loss is undeniable. With so many missed comments, conversations, and sounds, a person may find it obvious that something is amiss in the hearing process. For others, however, hearing loss can be more of a mystery. Particularly when it gradually builds over time, some people don’t notice what they’re missing in the sounding world. Whereas hearing loss might begin with a few bird species in the forest, years of progressive hearing loss can leave a person walking in a seemingly silent woods without knowing it. If you have someone in your life who doesn’t seem to acknowledge hearing loss, there are a few telltale signs that it might be an issue. Of course, the only way to make a proper diagnosis is to get a thorough hearing test. If one of these issues is evident in your loved one’s life, you can take it as a cue that a hearing test is necessary. 

Home Audio

Those who have untreated hearing loss tend to play home audio at a very high volume. The television is one of the most conspicuous devices that a person with hearing loss is likely to crank up to a high volume. The radio in the car is another telltale sign of untreated hearing loss if it is played at a level that is uncomfortable for others in the vehicle. It might be more difficult to notice that someone with hearing loss is playing the audio too loudly through headphones or earbuds. If you can hear the sound of those devices clearly from the outside, then you can that that as a clue that hearing loss could be an issue. 

Conversation Issues

When you are in a conversation with someone who has untreated hearing loss, there are some additional signs to keep in mind. That person might ask others to repeat themselves more often than usual. Of course, we all miss something in a conversation from time to time, but those with untreated hearing loss tend to ask others to repeat themselves or to speak up. 

Others might misinterpret things more often than they used to. Though we all mishear things from time to time, those with untreated hearing loss can unconsciously make up the wrong thing in a conversation, taking a faulty guess at what they think they heard. Still others will seem to check out in conversations. Rather than trying to remain engaged and paying attention, they might zone out altogether. This lack of mental focus can become obvious when you need to confirm that a person knows what is going on. If they consistently show that they don’t know what happened in a conversation, untreated hearing loss might be the underlying cause. 

Mental Health

Those who have untreated hearing loss have higher rates of anxiety and depression than their counterparts who do not have hearing loss. They tend to feel so frustrated and isolated by their conditions that their mental health suffers more generally. Social isolation is an intermediate cause of these negative mental health issues. When a person has trouble hearing in conversations, it can make them feel embarrassed, frustrated, or angry. Rather than getting treatment, they might opt to disengage from social encounters altogether. When we lose our social connections, we are prone to feelings of depression, and physical health can suffer, as well. If you notice social isolation or depression from your loved one, you might take that issue as a prompt to have a conversation about hearing loss. 

Getting Treatment

If you notice any of these signs of hearing loss in your loved one, the time is now to have a frank conversation about their experiences and needs. Without being pushy, you can simply ask if they have had any trouble hearing or communicating lately. Once you ask the question, simply listen to what they have to say. You might be surprised that they have been afraid or unable to tell you about their hearing issues. Once you have opened the door for this conversation, you will be able to start the process of support and assistance in seeking treatment. The first step will be to schedule a hearing test to get a thorough diagnosis of that person’s needs and treatment options.