Five Signs of Hearing Loss: When it is Time to Seek Help

There are five early warning signs of hearing loss.

Based on data from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the chance of hearing loss is greatest among individuals ages 60-69. However, many senior citizens don't realize they have hearing loss for years, since the progression can be so slow.

Hearing loss can affect ordinary activities such as watching television.

The causes of hearing loss most common among senior citizens are aging and chronic exposure to loud noises. These factors are significant especially for those who have familial history of age-contributed hearing loss, or who spent their lives working in noisy environments. This type of hearing loss is typically not reversible but can be mitigated with hearing aids. Excessive earwax can cause temporary hearing impairment, but in most cases, once the obstruction is removed the ears will again conduct sound properly, relieving the issue.

A doctor or a hearing specialist can diagnose hearing loss and help patients take steps to remediate the symptoms, but many people don't recognize the early warning signs of hearing loss and go for years or even up to a decade before seeking help. These five signs of hearing loss can alert you to an issue and prompt you to seek help as soon as possible:

  • Speech and other sounds coming through as "muffled"
  • Words and sentences become hard to understand, especially in noisy environments or in crowds of people
  • Consonants become increasingly hard to distinguish between
  • Digital noise such as audio from the radio or a TV must be turned up
  • You find yourself continually asking people to repeat themselves or speak more slowly, clearly, or loudly

Failure to seek help for hearing loss can lead to withdrawing from social situations and conversations, which can result in loneliness, depression, and self-confidence or self-esteem issues. Fortunately, seeking help from medical professionals could lead to such solutions as hearing aids.

A doctor or a hearing specialist can diagnose hearing loss and help patients take steps to remediate the symptoms, but many people don’t recognize the early warning signs of hearing loss and go for years or even up to a decade before seeking help.