When masks were introduced as a daily reality about two years ago, it was a massive change for everyone. There certainly was a period of adaptation for almost all of us. For many, it was more than just getting used to cover your mouth and nose. For them, it was realising how subconsciously reliant they were on lip-reading to understand speech. Many people suddenly realised that they struggled to hear without the help of visual cues. So what are the tell-tale symptoms that might make you think you might have a hearing loss?
When you think of eyesight difficulties, this is usually a very personal realisation. One day you’re walking down the street and think, “I swear I used to read that sign clearly before”. A hearing loss, however, is often noticed by friends and family. Sometimes you might feel strain to understand speech or aren’t hearing sounds.
Lost in conversation
More often, though, it’s when others feel they must repeat themselves a lot in conversations, for example. Or they might find that you put the volume of the TV up louder than is necessary or comfortable. Or perhaps you tend to misunderstand words or sentences. Another good example is you don’t respond unless they speak at a stronger volume, or you tend to shout your words.
An important point about hearing loss is that it is often in high frequencies. Most children’s and women’s voices use high frequency. That’s why we often hear “my wife just mumbles a lot” when someone has an undiagnosed hearing loss. Consonants in speech also come as high frequencies, while vowels are in the lower pitches. While you might not have difficulty hearing sounds, you may struggle to understand words correctly.
However, the more problematic symptoms of hearing loss are social distance and isolating ones. People with hearing loss often struggle to hear in noisy environments or in groups. Sometimes, without even realising it, they may start to avoid these social situations as they become unenjoyable. They may start to seclude themselves more while others may begin to lessen interactions due to constantly repeating themselves. Hearing loss can become a real concern, leading to mental health issues such as depression.
How can you help?
This is why if you feel someone you know is showing these symptoms, it’s important to talk to them. Sometimes they themselves may not even be aware of it. After all, you can notice when you can’t see clearly, but how do you know you do not hear sounds? Encourage them to have their hearing checked out, if only for health reasons. Not all hearing losses are permanent, but we need to be aware of them to treat them. So make sure you look out for these signs and call us if you need a hearing test.