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Signs of Hearing Loss in Adults

In Blog, Expert Information, Informative by Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

Sometimes hearing loss comes on suddenly and can be obvious to the person that his or her hearing has been impaired. In other cases, hearing loss can come on gradually and emerge slowly. Those who are suffering may have trouble recognizing that they have hearing loss because they continue to adjust to the changes. Regardless of the cause or circumstances, there are a few telltale signs of hearing loss in adults.

What are the signs of hearing loss in adults?

Signs of hearing loss can be seen in many ways – medically, socially, and emotionally. Medically speaking, signs of hearing loss may include the following:

• Family history of hearing loss
• Exposure to loud sounds for an extended period of time
• Single exposure to explosive sounds
• Taking medications that may harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs)
• Have other medical conditions that have been shown to increase changes of hearing loss, such as diabetes and thyroid, heart, or circulation problems.
• Experience a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears (tinnitus)

You might see changes in social behavior if you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss. Socially, signs of hearing loss in adults might include the following:

• Difficulty following conversations involving more than two people.
• Require frequent repetition
• Listen to television or radio at high volumes
• Have difficulty hearing in crowds or other noisy environments
• Answer or respond inappropriately in conversations
• Think that other people sound like they are mumbling or muffled
• Difficulty hearing on the phone

Some common emotional changes that often accompany hearing loss may include the following:

• Frustration from being unable to hear what others are saying
• Avoidance of social situations or telephone conversations due to inability to hear
• Exhaustion after social events
• Feeling anxiety or embarrassment about trying to hear and understand
• Feeling annoyed with others because it is difficult to hear them

The most common type of hearing loss in adults is sensorineural. This often results in a decreased ability to hear high-pitched sounds. People with this type of hearing loss often miss these and other high-frequency sounds:

• Higher-pitched voices such as children’s or female voices
• Vehicle turn signals
• Songbirds
• Certain consonant sounds such as s, sh, th, v, p, f, making it difficult to understand some words
• Telephone rings and beeping sounds such as microwave or oven beeps

What should I do if I am experiencing hearing loss?

If you believe that you or a loved may be suffering from hearing loss, try taking an online hearing quiz like this one. While it may be easy to ignore or dismiss symptoms for a while, especially when hearing loss is gradual, taking steps to restore your hearing can give you a new outlook on life. Contact an audiologist at Whisper Hearing Centers for a baseline test and follow up annually to look for changes. The sooner you seek help, the better the outcome will be.

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