Untreated hearing loss can have many negative consequences, such as a decline in general health, emotional well-being, and social isolation. More recently, studies have been investigating possible links with cognitive dysfunction, some of which even point towards the likelihood of untreated hearing loss being one of nine possible factors contributing to the risk of dementia.
Below, Katie Ogden, the training manager of ReSound North-West Europe, outlines six signs of hearing loss to look out for in yourself or loved ones that suggest hearing aids could help to improve general well being, longer-term health, and overall quality of life.
Asking you to repeat yourself
Everyone can mishear things from time to time and need them repeated, but if you or your loved one are constantly asking for things to be repeated or muttering ‘What did you say?’ this could be a sign you’re lacking the sounds and signals needed to process speech properly.
Complaining about mumbling
Those struggling with hearing loss often complain that people aren’t speaking clearly or are mumbling. This can be due to people with hearing loss not being able to hear high-pitched speech frequencies, hearing the vowels which is the sound of the word, but not the consonants which is the clarity and meaning of the word, making them feel like they can hear the sound but not fully understand it.
Difficulty with phone conversations
If your loved one has their mobile phone volume set to the max volume possible or is having to use the speakerphone to hear what someone on the other end is saying, this could be a sign that they could benefit from hearing aids.
Listening to the TV at a loud volume
Television shows with fast paced dialogue or a substantial amount of background noise can be hard for those with hearing loss to follow, as crucial dialogue can often be drowned out, leading to people listening to the TV at a much higher volume.
So, if a friend or family member needs to have the TV volume turned up to a level of sound that is uncomfortable for others watching in the room to hear, this could be an indication they could benefit from a hearing assessment. There are also online hearing tests for those not comfortable going straight to an audiologist, which can offer some further indication on clarity and next steps.
Appearing withdrawn or becoming quiet
Individuals with hearing loss often become quieter or can appear to become withdrawn in social situations or in noisy environments. This can be due to that person being frustrated they may not be able to hear properly, or from feeling self-conscious or embarrassed that they will have to ask others to repeat themselves.
If you notice this behaviour pattern starting to emerge in your loved one’s personality during these types of situations, you should encourage them to see an audiologist to see if they could benefit from hearing aids to regain their confidence.
While it’s normal to feel a bit tired after a long day of catching up with family or friends, if you or a loved one is feeling totally drained and exhausted after conversing with others, there could be more to it than simply needing a good nights sleep.
When a person isn’t hearing all of the sounds of speech, the brain then has to fill in any gaps to help make sense of what people are saying. This requires a lot of extra focus and makes the brain work even harder to process what is going on in a busy situation, leading to extreme tiredness afterwards.
How to get help?
Treating hearing loss can not only improve the health of the person suffering but also those around them, having a dramatically positive effect on their social relationships and love life. That’s why if you recognise a number of these signs in your loved one, it’s time to seek the help of a professional audiologist.