Hearing loss is sometimes sudden, but more often it is gradual and you may not notice it at first. Be aware of the early signs; and act right away!
Signs of hearing loss
- difficulty hearing other people clearly or misunderstanding what they say, especially in group situations or crowded rooms;
- difficulty keeping up with conversations when talking to a group of people or asking people to speak up or repeat themselves;
- listening to music or watching television with the volume higher than other people need;
- difficulty hearing a ringing telephone;
- unable to distinguish which direction noise is coming from;
- difficulty hearing lectures or work-related meetings or religious services or social gatherings;
- leaning towards others to hear better;
- feeling stressed or fatigue from having to concentrate while listening.
If you also hear a ringing, buzzing or whistling sound in your ears, this could be a sign of tinnitus, which is often associated with hearing loss.
Discovering that you have a hearing loss can be difficult to accept at first. You might not even want to think about it right now, but the sooner you do something, the better.
Consider the vast improvements your social, emotional and physical well-being – in your overall quality of life.
Is this you?
Background noises sound a little cloudy, you can’t make out some voices and certain sounds. You may notice that you strain to hear what people are saying.
In a social setting you have to really concentrate on what is being said; you pay more attention to people’s lip movements and facial expressions to better understand what you can’t hear.
High-frequency of soft sounds may be increasingly difficult to hear. You may also have difficulty with hard consonants such as s, f and th. This can make understanding speech in background noise very challenging.
What causes hearing loss?
Hearing health is important throughout your life – and you should ensure that it checked on a regular basis. Most forms of hearing loss can be successfully addressed with the latest advances in hearing aid technology.
It is very common for people to begin to lose a small amount of their hearing from around 40 years of age and by the age of 80, most people have a noticeable hearing loss.
Another common cause of hearing loss is damage to the ear from repeated exposure to loud noises – overloading the delicate hair cells with exposure to loud noises, damages them over time.
Listening to music at a loud volume has become a common, high-risk factor. Younger people in particular are damaging their hearing by not using earplugs at concerts, festivals and clubs and by turning up the volume on their MP3s to excessive and dangerous levels.
Hearing loss can also occur suddenly after exposure to an exceptionally loud noise, such as an explosion or jet engine. Some people lose hearing to an infection or reaction to an ototoxic drug.
For these reasons, make ‘hearing’ part of your health care.