Hearing loss becomes more common as we age with nearly half of the American population over the age of 65 experiencing some degree of hearing loss. The symptoms of hearing loss may present themselves in different ways, therefore it is important to understand what to look for and when to see a hearing health professional.

Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Objective signs are behaviors that others may notice and mention to you, while subjective symptoms are ones you notice yourself. Both signs and symptoms are important to consider with hearing loss. Because hearing loss, especially age-related hearing loss, occurs gradually, it is important to take into account these signs and symptoms and make an appointment for a hearing test. 

Objective Signs

There may be instances where family and friends mention that they’ve noticed changes to your hearing. They are saying this to be helpful, and it may indicate that it is time to consult with an audiologist for a hearing test. Some of the most common observations made by others include commenting on the volume of the television or music being too loud and having to repeat themselves more often.

Subjective Symptoms

On the other hand, subjective symptoms are ones that you will notice yourself. They can vary widely and should be taken seriously. Some of the most common symptoms are described below.   

    • “I can hear, I just can’t understand”- This is often said by those with age-related hearing loss. Due to the changes in certain frequencies that you can hear, words become more difficult to understand. For example, with age-related hearing loss higher frequencies are affected first. 
    • Isolation from social gatherings- When understanding others becomes more challenging, we tend to avoid situations where hearing is difficult. Restaurants and other social gatherings with background noise make hearing more of a challenge for those with hearing loss. 
    • Avoidance of phone conversations- We use body language and social cues more than we realize to understand those around us, however when speaking to someone on the phone we rely mostly on hearing. Because of this, phone conversations are often more difficult for those with hearing loss. Similar to the isolation from social gatherings, those with hearing loss may avoid phone calls as well. 
    • Changes in the environment that impact what you hear- As mentioned briefly above, various environments present different challenges. You may begin to notice difficulty hearing when there is background noise such as other conversations or the television in the room. You may also notice it is harder to hear in environments that are not well-lit or when the person who is speaking to you is not directly in front of you. 

All of these small, gradual changes are important to consider and suggest that it is time to set up an appointment with an audiologist and take a hearing test. 

Living with Hearing Loss

Treatment options are available for different types of hearing loss however the most common form of treatment for age-related hearing loss is hearing aids. Using the results of the hearing test, hearing aids can be programmed to meet the exact needs of your hearing loss by correcting only the frequencies that need improving by the precise volume necessary.

Even with treatment, hearing loss often requires some lifestyle modifications to ensure that you are hearing and living your best. 

  • Reduce background noise– When possible, reduce background noise by turning down the television or moving to a quieter environment. If you are in a restaurant or crowded area, some hearing aids have settings that reduce this background noise for you. 
  • Position yourself to assist in hearing– This can be accomplished in a number of ways. For example, by speaking face to face at eye level in well-lit environments. 
  • Advocate for yourself– This may be the most important step you can take to hearing those around you better. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat themselves or to speak more clearly. They are speaking to you and therefore have something they want you to know, give them the tools they need to communicate with you effectively.

Make an appointment today to speak with an audiologist about any signs and symptoms you may be experiencing.