old man struggling with hearing loss

How to recognise the signs of hearing loss

16 / 02 / 24

Blog post

If you’ve recently thought that you might be suffering from hearing loss, but aren’t sure what signs to look out for, we’ve got you covered. In today’s article, we will be discussing how to recognise the signs of hearing loss. 

Understanding the causes and types of hearing loss

Hearing loss can stem from various factors, including both environmental and genetic influences. One common cause is age-related hearing loss, which typically occurs gradually as a result of changes in the inner ear over time. Exposure to loud noises, either through occupational or recreational activities, can lead to noise-induced hearing loss; damaging the hair cells in the inner ear and resulting in permanent hearing impairment.

Additionally, certain medical conditions can contribute to hearing loss. For example, otosclerosis is a condition in the middle ear which can interfere with the transmission of sound vibrations. Other conditions, such as Menieres disease or autoimmune disorders, may also affect hearing function.

Moreover, there are different types of hearing loss, each with distinct characteristics and underlying mechanisms. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is an obstruction or damage to the outer or middle ear, preventing sound from reaching the inner ear effectively. This type of hearing loss can result from conditions like ear infections, ear wax buildup, or abnormalities in the ear canal or middle ear structures.

Sensorineural hearing loss, on the other hand, involves damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve pathways leading to the brain. This type of hearing loss is often permanent and can be caused by factors such as ageing, exposure to loud noise, genetics, or certain medications that are toxic to the auditory system.

Finally, mixed hearing loss refers to a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, where both the outer/middle ear and inner ear structures are affected. This type of hearing loss may require a combination of medical and rehabilitative interventions for management.

young woman suffering from hearing issue

Common signs and symptoms

One of the most common signs of hearing loss is difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy environments or when conversing with multiple people. Individuals with hearing loss may struggle to follow conversations, particularly, if they involve rapid speech or unfamiliar accents. 

Also, frequent requests for repetition is another common sign of hearing loss. If the individual often asks others to repeat themselves, this is a big indication they’re struggling to understand what is being said. This coincides with another sign – turning up the volume. Repeatedly increasing the volume to watch TV or listen to music, is a sign your hearing is deteriorating.

Furthermore, tinnitus and social withdrawal are huge indications of hearing loss. Ringing, buzzing, or hissing sounds in the ears, are often associated with hearing loss. Many individuals with hearing loss experience tinnitus as a persistent or intermittent symptom. Also, a loss of hearing can lead to feelings of frustration, embarrassment, or isolation, causing some individuals to withdraw from social interactions. They may avoid gatherings or events where communication is challenging, leading to a decrease in social engagement and quality of life.

By being aware of these common signs and symptoms, individuals can recognise potential issues early on and take proactive steps to address their hearing health. 

Subtle signs that go unnoticed

The next step to recognise signs of hearing loss is the subtle signs that go unnoticed. There are a few to make a note of, and one we briefly touched on before is avoiding social situations. Some individuals with hearing loss may unconsciously avoid social situations or gatherings where communication is challenging. They may decline invitations to events where background noise and multiple speakers make it difficult to follow conversations. This can stem from a fear of embarrassment or frustration over not being able to participate fully.

Another subtle sign is a delayed response in conversations. Individuals may take longer to process and respond to spoken information, as they may need extra time to decipher speech or mentally piece together fragmented auditory signals. This delay can sometimes be mistaken for inattentiveness or slow cognitive processing. We recommend you keep a close eye on this. 

In addition, individuals with hearing loss may show strained facial expressions or body language during conversations, particularly when they are struggling to hear or understand. They may furrow their brows, lean in closely, or tilt their head to try to catch sounds more effectively. These subtle cues can indicate that they are experiencing difficulty with hearing.

close up of ear

Book a hearing test

Seeking help and getting tested for hearing loss is a critical step in addressing potential hearing health concerns, and improving overall quality of life. Many individuals may experience hesitation or uncertainty when it comes to seeking professional evaluation, but understanding the process and benefits can encourage timely intervention.

The first step in seeking help for hearing loss is booking a hearing test. This will involve a series of tests to assess various aspects of hearing function, including sensitivity to sounds, speech understanding abilities, and auditory processing skills. If you’re over the age of 60, you should have at least one hearing test per year

Following the assessment, the audiologist will review the test results and discuss any findings related to your hearing status. This includes the type and severity of hearing loss, its potential causes, and recommendations for further management. 

If you’re looking for a high-quality hearing test then there is no better place to look than us, here at Sutton Hearing Centre. Our full hearing test is the best way to diagnose what the issue is, so you can take your first steps towards improved hearing. Whatever your concern, our audiologists will provide you with a full diagnostic of the problem. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our latest article about how to recognise the signs of hearing loss. If you’d like to learn more about the signs – reach out to our team today

Alternatively, if you would like to book a hearing test, get in touch with our audiologists today!

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