Hearing loss may occur as a result of the inner ear getting damaged. The damage could be due to loud noise exposure and aging, which causes wear and tear on the nerve cells or hairs in the cochlea. Hearing loss could also be because of gradual earwax buildup, which can block the ear canal, preventing sound waves’ conduction. Removing the wax can restore hearing. Hearing loss may also happen due to tumors or abnormal bone growths, ear infections, and a ruptured eardrum.
Hearing loss involving the middle or outer ear is conductive, and the one affecting the inner ear is sensorineural. You can also get a combination of both. Discussed below are five warning signs of hearing loss.
Trouble following conversations in noisy areas
As your hearing loss progresses, any background noise or interference worsens the issue. Background noises in restaurants and malls are generally low-pitched, and if you have a problem hearing high tones such as f and s, the noise will overpower the conversation with people around you. It makes it challenging to follow conversations, and you may misunderstand what others say. However, hearing aids from trusted brands such as Helix Hearing Care can help improve your hearing.
You strain to listen
When you have difficulties hearing all speech sounds, your brain struggles to fill in the gaps to try and make sense of what people are saying. This requires concentration, especially where more than one person is talking at a time, and the strain may leave you exhausted. Consult your doctor immediately for a timely diagnosis.
Speech and other sounds seem unclear or muffled
As you age, wear and tear affect your cochlea, the organ responsible for sending sounds to your brain. When this happens, the cells that detect high-pitched tones are the first to fail, making it difficult to understand people with high-pitched sounds like women and children. You may also not hear the crickets chirping or your microwave beeping.
Your ears ringing
Ear ringing, also called tinnitus, begins in the inner ear and is mainly caused by the loss of or damage to the sensory hair cells in the inner ear or cochlea. Tinnitus can present itself in various ways, such as sounds related to buzzing, ringing, ocean, whooshing, hissing, or clicking. The sound may be in one ear or both, occasional or constant, soft or loud, and is usually associated with hearing loss.
Tinnitus may occur due to cochlea’s nerve activity changes. The changes can be caused by exposure to loud noises, concussion or head injury, wax buildup in your ears, caffeine, many medications, and Meniere’s disease. While tinnitus can go away on its own, learning how to cope with it can be helpful.
Turning up radio or television volume
When TV and radio conversations become difficult to follow on moderate volume, you increase it to the maximum. However, you might not notice it until someone tells you that your volume is too high, or you have to reduce it to listen to what others are saying. This could be a sign that you’re losing your hearing ability. Visiting your doctor can have your concerns addressed early enough.
Hearing loss can significantly impact your quality of life. Since it’s difficult to converse, the affected individuals might feel isolated or experience depression. Look out for these hearing loss warning signs and consult your doctors as soon as they begin manifesting.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertforshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.