Hearing loss can occur at any time in someone’s life, but commonly appears as you age. This is called presbycusis, and it affects approximately one in two people over the age of 75 in the United States. Hearing loss often happens between the ages of 65 and 75, but can also appear earlier or later in life.

Establishing the difference between permanent and temporary hearing loss is essential. If left untreated, hearing can deteriorate faster or even complete loss of hearing can occur. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, here are some signs to look out for and when you should see an audiologist.

Hearing loss is usually diagnosed as one of three types:

  • Conductive
  • Sensorineural
  • Mixed

Aging and chronic exposure to loud noises both contribute to hearing loss. Other factors, such as excessive earwax, can temporarily reduce how well your ears conduct sounds.

You can't reverse most types of hearing loss. However, you and your audiologist can take steps to improve your hearing.

Muffling of speech and other sounds

If you’ve noticed that you’re struggling to hear people when they are speaking to you, you may be experiencing some level of hearing loss. This might be a buildup of earwax in your ear canal, or it might be signs that you’re experiencing hearing loss. An audiologist will be able to determine the cause and set on a course of treatment.

Pain or discomfort when hearing certain sounds

Hyperacusis, also known as tinnitus, is a condition that causes pain or discomfort to certain sounds. This can be treated without hearing aids, but sometimes it could be a sign that you’re in need of hearing aids so that you can control the volume of certain sounds, eliminating any discomfort or pain.

Difficulty understanding words

Everyone mishears from time to time, but if you’re finding it difficult to understand conversations with those around you, this could be a sign of hearing loss. Again, this could be due to wax build up or an infection, but it’s always best to get it checked with your audiologist.

Trouble hearing consonants

Another symptom of hearing loss is trouble hearing consonants. You might mishear an s for an f and similar for other consonants that sound the same. If you’re using the telephone, this can happen due to poor signal or connection. However, if this is happening when you’re speaking to someone face to face, it might be time to get your ears checked.

Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly

Some people speak quickly, and it can be difficult to understand what they’re saying for those without hearing loss. However, if you’re experiencing this suddenly with someone you’d normally understand, this could be a sign that your ears need checking.

Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio

Outside and background noise can easily drown out what you’re watching or listening to, but if you’re finding yourself turning up the volume louder than normal or members of your household are commenting about how loud you’re listening to the TV or radio, then this could be a sign of hearing loss.

Withdrawal from conversations

Another sign that you’re experiencing hearing loss is noticing that you’re withdrawn from conversations. This could be due to distraction, but it could also be where you’re not realizing a conversation was happening. If you’re finding that you’re entering conversations late or not at all, have your hearing tested with your audiologist.

Avoidance of some social settings

You may have had an ear infection or blockage in the past that caused temporary hearing loss, and it’s not uncommon to avoid social settings because you simply can’t hear or participate in conversations. If this is something that’s happening regularly, and you’re sure there’s no underlying infection or blockage, this could be a sign of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can affect people in many different ways, and if left unseen to, can progressively get worse over time. At the first stages of hearing loss, as soon as you realize you’re not hearing as well as you normally would, make an appointment with your audiologist so that you can work together to determine the cause of your hearing loss.

Remember, there are many different types of hearing aids available, and depending on the severity of your hearing loss, you can choose hearing aids that are best suited to you and your lifestyle. For more information and advice, call Davis Audiology at 864-655-8300