Hearing loss is extremely common, effecting about one-in-three Americans 65 and over and one-in-two Americans over the age of 75. These numbers are quite staggering. One might assume that if half the population over the age of 75 has a hearing loss, then hearing aid use would reflect similar numbers. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, studies have found that only about 30% of people who could benefit from hearing aids actually use them.
Why do so few people with hearing loss use hearing aids? One answer to this question is that many do not realize or accept changes in their hearing. The average American waits about seven years from the time they notice changes in their hearing to the time they seek treatment, meaning people are living almost a decade with untreated hearing loss on average. It is imperative to know the early signs of hearing loss to ensure you or your loved ones seek treatment as soon as hearing loss begins to present itself.
Signs of Hearing Loss
1. That obnoxious ringing in your ears. If you have started to notice an annoying ringing, buzzing or clicking in your ears, it is most likely tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying issue that causes one to hear phantom noises - most often ringing or buzzing. Tinnitus can be constant, or it can come and go. It can also be extremely distracting, or be simply a bit bothersome. However, your tinnitus presents itself, it’s a good indication that it might be time for a hearing assessment. A large majority of people who suffer tinnitus also have a hearing loss.
2. Hearing, but not understanding. This one is extremely common, and quite confusing to many. It may feel as though others are mumbling or speaking in hushed tones. This is due to the fact that with hearing loss, often the first thing to go is our ability to decipher subtle differences between sounds such as “b” and “p”. This can cause a lot of confusion in conversations and can cause one to feel like they are hearing people perfectly fine, however, just cannot quite grasp what they are saying.
3. Comments from friends and family. Often, our closest friends and family members are the first to notice changes in our hearing. If your friends and family have expressed a concern about your hearing, have complained that you are “not listening” to them or grumble that the TV volume is always too high, it may be a sign that there have been some changes in your hearing.
4. Difficulty with or withdrawing from group conversations and social situations. Another common early sign of hearing loss is difficulty holding conversations with more than one or two people at a time. This is because our brains are using extended resources to hear, and cannot switch focus as quickly and accurately as they did when our hearing was better. While some people recognize this difficulty right away, trouble with group conversations is not as obvious to others. These people tend to find themselves subconsciously withdrawing from social situations or group conversations they used to enjoy - simply because the conversations have become frustrating and difficult.
5. Frequently asking others to speak up. Think back to your last few conversations. How many times did you need to ask your communication partner to speak up or repeat themselves? Did you find yourself “smiling and nodding” because you couldn’t quite catch what they said? Of course we all need phrases repeated from time-to-time, however, if this is happening quite often, it is probably time for a hearing screen.
6. Exhaustion after social events. Straining to hear takes a toll on our bodies - a toll that can leave us feeling extremely drained. This is especially true after social gatherings with multiple people such as office happy hours, family parties or group dinners. Feeling overly exhausted after attending these types of events may be a sign of hearing loss.
Audiology Services of Redding
If you live in the Redding area and have noticed these or any changes to your hearing, reach out to our friendly staff today. We are proud to offer comprehensive hearing screens with knowledgeable, professional and caring audiologists. We look forward to an opportunity to walk with you on your journey to better hearing and an improved quality of life.