One day you wake up fine and everything is normal, next thing, before you know it, you are up again, and your body is just not what it used to be. Although the aging process happens gradually, its effects hit you suddenly.
Like with all parts of the body, changes in hearing are common as people get older. Like with the start of grey hairs, an age-related hearing problem can be just as subtle.
John is a 60-year-old accountant who is close to retiring. He often finds himself in a situation where he constantly feels like people are mumbling when they talk to him. His wife and daughter keep telling him that he cannot hear, which he thinks might be true as he struggles to follow their conversations and feels left out. At work when in noisy meetings, it becomes exhausting for him to keep concentrating on what his colleagues are saying, especially when there are no visual aids. Sometimes he can have a quiet conversation at home with his wife but when they go out to a restaurant he often has to lean in to hear what she is saying or rely on visual cues. He tends to speak loudly and his family often feels frustrated when he does not end up understanding what they are saying.
It is not an easy process to come to terms with the sudden impacts that you are experiencing, but if it is any consolation, you are not alone. Over 466 million people in the world, of different ages, have some kind of disabling hearing loss that interferes with their routine functioning.
With such a common occurrence, it is no surprise that there is constant development in the field of Audiology to help people get their lives back and most importantly improve their overall quality of life. This is the first step towards fighting the desire to avoid time with family and friends. You might find that instead of being alone, you end up with a support system that can help.
Pay attention to the patterns that are forming and listen to what the people in your life are telling you. Often, they are the first to realize someone they care about has hearing loss.
The good news is that there are so many ways you can improve your hearing health, especially if you recognize the signs of hearing loss early. If even one of these scenarios sounds familiar, then it may be time to for a professional hearing test.
If you are concerned that you may have hearing loss, use this checklist to get more information. If you answer yes to one or more of these questions on the hearing loss checklist, it is time to investigate further.
- Do you often find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
- Does everyone’s voices seem to be muffled or unclear?
- Do you find yourself increasing the volume of the TV, where others complain that it is too loud?
- Do you struggle to follow conversations in a group? Does it get worse when there is noise in the background?
- Do you have trouble hearing someone if they are not facing you?
- Do you experience any ringing, buzzing, or other noises in your ears, when in a quiet place?
- Do you find it difficult to follow a conversation on the phone?
- Does hearing loss run in your family?
- Do you find yourself avoiding gatherings because you are having trouble hearing?
- Do your loved ones often complain that you cannot hear?
- Can you tell the direction from which a sound is coming?
- Do any of these health or noise exposure issues apply to you?
- Exposure to a single, explosive noise
- Exposure to very loud sounds over a long period of time
- High blood pressure, heart or circulation issues
- Diabetes or recent strokes
Amplifon-Hearing Care Professionals. Hearing loss signs and symptoms. https://www.amplifon.com/au/hearing-loss/signs-and-symptoms. 2021. Retrieved January 2021.
Audiology Speciality Clinic. 5 common problems with hearing loss-which ones do you need to overcome? Retrieved from:https://www.audiologyspecialtyclinic.com/hearing-loss-articles/5-common-problems-hearing-loss-ones-need-overcome/.07 September 2017. Retrieved January 2021.
Compass WebMD. 6 Subtle Signs of Hearing Loss. Reviewed by Borgia, S.A. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/hearing-loss-signs#1. 01 September 2019. Retrieved January 2021.
Griffin, H. Hope to cope when you feel left out. Retrieved from:https://www.wikihow.com/Cope-when-You-Feel-Left-Out. 12 March 2021.
Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Adapted from: Newman, C.W., Weinstein, B.E., Jacobson, G.P., & Hug, G.A. (1990). The Hearing Handicap Inventory for Adults [HHIA]: Psychometric adequacy and audiometric correlates. Ear Hear, 11, 430-433. Retrieved from:https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/hearing-loss-basics/ February 2021.
Victory, J. (21 November 2019). Hearing Loss Symptoms.Retrieved from: https://www.healthyhearing.com/help/hearing-loss/symptoms. January 2021