Posted on Monday, December 01, 2014

Hearing Loss Symptoms

Couple toast to learning more about hearing loss.

Hearing loss isn't always obvious. The lack of awareness around signs of hearing loss means a television turned up to high levels is more likely to be defined as a bad habit or rudeness instead of a hearing loss symptom. This happens at home, work, and in school--where a teacher may misunderstand why a child asks to have something repeated. So what are the symptoms of hearing loss and how can you recognize them?

Symptoms of hearing loss need to become more widely known in order to combat what is the third largest health problem in America.

  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is not a condition in and of itself, but a symptom of an underlying problem. This ringing or buzzing in the ears can be high pitched, intermittent or constant. It is sometimes accompanied by vertigo and is often a symptom of hearing loss.
  • Repeating: Asking to have things repeated often can be a symptom of hearing loss. Don’t dismiss the possibility, because you only ask for repetition during certain situations—on the cell phone, when speaking to a female, or a child. These are all symptoms of higher level hearing loss.
  • Volume: Does your spouse accuse you of not paying attention or of turning up the volume on the television too loud? Your spouse might think you are being rude, but in actuality this can be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • Inability to Hear Female or Child Voices: Females and children speak in a higher register, so one of the first symptoms of hearing loss that is often dismissed is the inability to hear these higher pitched voices. If you consistently feel that women or children are mumbling around you, this is a warning sign you need to see your audiologist.
  • Depression: According to Dr. Claudia Dewane in her article Hearing Loss in Older Adults--Its Effect on Mental Health, "Hearing loss can create a psychological solitary confinement." This confinement can lead to feelings of depression that are quite often misconstrued, so that the cause--hearing loss, is not even recognized.
  • Isolation and Social Anxiety: Difficulty hearing in crowds or an inability to decipher what is being said are two reasons that people suffering from hearing loss tend to isolate themselves. They are anxious about responding inappropriately or looking "out of touch." Often people don’t pursue these feelings, assuming they are emotional, but in fact they can be symptoms of discomfort in communicating with others due to hearing loss. Note: Hearing loss is more pronounced in social situations where there is an increase in background noise.
  • Dementia and Alzheimer's: Alzheimer's and Dementia may indicate that there is hearing loss. That's because sensory input form your ears, helps to keep your brain younger and functioning better. A study conducted by Dr. Jonathan Peelle and funded by the National Institute on Hearing, showed that hearing loss and the resulting lack of stimulation tended to cause reduction in gray matter. This startling report indicates preserving hearing may be as important as correcting hearing loss in keeping the brain healthy.
  • Some Sounds Seem too Loud: This may seem contrary to hearing loss, but this phenomena is due to the fact that other parts of hearing, different registers like high-pitched frequencies, are missing. Therefore when a register that is not missing travels to the ears, an individual with hearing loss is startled by the sound.
  • Other Impacts on Hearing

  • Diabetes: Diabetes isn't a sign of hearing loss, but diabetics are more likely to suffer from hearing problems and hearing loss for the same reasons that they are more likely to have problems with their circulation and heart—glucose overload. It's important that diabetics be tested for hearing loss by a hearing health professional.
  • Poor Nutrition: An Australian study reported on in the Journal of Nutrition, has shown that diets high in sugar and carbohydrates detrimentally impacts hearing. A similar study showed that diets high in cholesterol also contribute to hearing loss normally associated with aging.

    A difficulty understanding conversation with more than two people, a belief that many people are mumbling, a ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and an inability to understand higher pitched voices like women and children are all signs of hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss is tied to depression, lower quality of life, isolation, Alzheimer's, dementia, and loss of income, so it is important not only to protect hearing, but to correct hearing loss. If you or anyone you know has symptoms of hearing loss, please contact your hearing health provider.

    If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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