An introduction to hearing loss
Here are some things we hear regularly from people with hearing loss:
- I can hear but I don’t understand.
- Everyone sounds like they are mumbling.
- People just don’t talk as clearly as they used to
- Restaurants are harder to hear in these days
- I can hear my wife fine, but she always turns away when she’s talking to me
Sound familiar?? Most often, hearing loss affects the high frequency sounds a person hears first. As a result, this creates a perception that other people mumble. Also, it causes difficulty hearing well in noisy places. Often patients can hear vowels just fine, but consonant sounds of F, S, T, K, and X are difficult to hear. Additionally, higher sounds like a woman’s or child’s voice become more difficult to hear than most men’s voices.
Imagine removing all the high keys on a piano and asking someone to play a well-known melody. Even with only six or seven keys missing, the melody might be difficult to recognize. People with hearing loss experience a similar variation of the soundtrack of their lives every day. This can have profound impact on a person’s quality of life.
Hearing Loss has been linked to:
- Increased irritability and/or anger
- Increased tension and stress
- Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
- Impaired memory
- An inability to learn new tasks
- Reduced job performance and earning power
- Risk of Dementia/ mental decline
Identifying hearing loss can be tricky
Because most cases of hearing loss develop gradually, it’s common for people affected to not recognize it. The sounds of chirping birds or rustling leaves disappear without them noticing. Only after it starts to affect speech recognition and communication do they become aware of the problem. Even then, many people adapt quickly by learning to read lips without even knowing it. However, this doesn’t help when someone turns away from you.
However, it’s important to treat hearing loss as soon as it is recognized.
When hearing loss is left uncorrected, it will begin to impact life in more substantial ways. Studies show that people with hearing loss are more likely to experience sadness, fear, depression and anxiety – all of which can cause them to withdraw from normal personal interaction.