Communication is a cornerstone of building and maintaining meaningful relationships. However, when persistent communication challenges arise because of hearing loss, it can put a strain on that bond, slowly distancing us from the people we love most. Knowing how to recognize the signs your loved one has hearing loss is a crucial part of providing support and often the first step to getting them the care they deserve.
In this guide, we explore some common signs that someone close to you may be experiencing hearing loss. By recognizing these signs early on, you can play a vital role in supporting them on their journey toward better hearing and a fuller, more engaged life.
How Can You Tell if Someone is Losing Their Hearing?
Hearing loss is a common yet significant experience that millions of people face as they age. While initially subtle, the effects of hearing loss can have a profound impact on even the strongest of relationships. Identifying the signs of hearing loss in someone close to you can be challenging, but doing so is a powerful first step towards getting the care they deserve.
Below, we provide insight on how to recognize the signs that may indicate someone is losing their hearing.
Regularly Asking People to Repeat Themselves
Hearing loss often develops gradually over time. As it becomes increasingly challenging for a person to comprehend spoken words, they will likely ask others to repeat themselves more and more frequently. This is especially common in loud or crowded places where background noise makes it harder to focus on one specific sound such as someone talking.
Additionally, higher frequencies are usually among the first to be affected by age-related hearing loss. This makes it harder to understand people with higher-pitched voices such as women and children. Certain consonants like S, T, K, P, B, and F are also missed more often because of this. Consequently, the need for clarification or for someone to repeat what they said becomes more common as hearing loss progresses.
Changes in Their Responses to Common Sounds
If you notice that someone seems more distracted, frustrated, or less engaged in loud environments, this may indicate a struggle to hear over background noise. On the other hand, a lack of reaction to sudden loud noises like a falling object, phone notifications, or doorbells, suggests diminished sensitivity to auditory cues.
These shifts in response to common sounds may be indicators of hearing loss. When someone is losing their hearing, it can become more challenging to filter out background noise and focus on specific sounds or conversations. Simultaneously, hearing loss can also reduce sensitivity to auditory stimuli, such as sudden loud noises. This is especially common if the sound is of a higher pitch, like the phone ringing, or if the noise comes from another room, like something being dropped on the floor.
As hearing deteriorates, it’s common for people to misinterpret spoken words, leading to frequent misunderstandings. This can manifest as responses that seem unrelated to the conversation, trouble following verbal instructions, or a recurring need for clarification.
Additionally, hearing loss often limits the ability to discern subtle nuances in speech, making effective communication even more challenging. This can cause feelings of confusion or frustration and may even put a strain on relationships with colleagues, friends, and family members.
Turning Up the Volume Louder
Hearing loss often changes the way people perceive sound levels, prompting them to turn up the volume louder than what is typically comfortable for others. This compensatory behavior may extend to various sources like the television, radios, computers, cell phones, and more.
Moreover, most movies, TV shows, and other entertainments usually have background noise like music and sound effects. This layering of sounds, or auditory clutter, can make it difficult for people with hearing loss to hear things clearly, or comprehend dialogue, so they compensate by turning the volume up.
Issues Using the Phone
If you notice your loved one is frequently missing phone calls or responding late to text messages, it may be caused by an inability to hear the ringing or notification sounds. Similarly, habitually relying on features like speakerphone may also stem from trouble hearing clearly and the need for amplified sound.
Avoiding phone conversations could also be a way to cope with hearing challenges. Not being able to comprehend what people are saying during calls can lead to miscommunications and frustration, which may cause them to withdraw from phone communication altogether.
Seeming Less Engaged
If your loved one is not contributing to conversations, or not responding to direct questions, this may be a sign of hearing loss. These behaviors are especially common in noisy environments or when multiple people are speaking at the same time. As a result, people with hearing loss often become passive listeners, unable to fully comprehend and respond to ongoing discussions. This can lead to feelings of disconnection and isolation if they feel as though they are unable to actively engage with others.
Changes in Social Life
Hearing loss can have a significant impact on various aspects of a person’s life, including their social interactions. Difficulty following conversations or the fear of embarrassment or misunderstanding can lead to withdrawing from the social activities they once enjoyed. It’s also common to avoid places like restaurants, parties, or crowded events where background noise can make it extra challenging to understand speech.
You may also notice changes in their communication style, such as speaking more loudly, asking others to repeat themselves frequently, or responding inappropriately to questions or comments. If someone is struggling to hear and understand others, it can be frustrating and tiring. This frustration may cause them to limit their social interactions altogether to reduce stress or avoid miscommunications.
Issues with Balance or Dizziness
If your loved one is experiencing issues involving balance, or dizziness this could be a sign of hearing loss. Our inner ear plays a crucial role in both hearing and maintaining balance. As we age, the tiny hair cells in our inner ear naturally degrade resulting in hearing loss. This deterioration can also disrupt the delicate balance mechanisms, leading to dizzy spells or problems balancing.
Hearing loss can make it challenging to clearly understand spoken words, as well as trouble hearing reminder notifications or alarms set on devices like smartphones. This can lead to misunderstanding verbal invitations or event details and missed appointments or plans.
Seeming forgetfulness in attending to tasks like boiling water on the stove while cooking or in a tea kettle, could actually be caused by an inability to hear the water sizzling, or the kettle whistling. Similarly, leaving things in the microwave after they are done may be a result of not hearing the beeping signal.
While these situations illustrate how hearing loss can manifest as forgetfulness in various daily activities, the effects of this condition can also extend to a person’s working memory. Research has found a direct link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline, resulting in issues with memory and even an increased risk of dementia.
Help Your Loved One Find the Hearing Loss Care They Deserve
Recognizing the signs of hearing loss is a crucial step toward helping your loved one receive the support they deserve. If left untreated, hearing loss can have far-reaching effects including a diminished overall quality of life, potential emotional and mental health effects, and even an increased likelihood of cognitive decline.
If you suspect someone close to you has hearing loss, we are here to help. Take the first step toward getting the care they deserve by finding an Audibel hearing clinic near you today.