The percentage of individuals over the age of 65 affected by hearing loss is about 29%. This means that the majority of people with hearing loss symptoms are actually younger than age 65. The Hearing Loss Institute estimates there are close to six million people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 44 with hearing loss. Even if a hearing loss symptoms are suspected, without a comprehensive hearing evaluation, it is impossible to guess the nature of the hearing problem or the extent or degree of the loss.
Hearing Loss Symptoms
Here are some basic hearing loss signs and symptoms:
- Frequently misunderstanding words (“wash” for “watch”)
- Frequently asking people to repeat
- Responding inappropriately to what is said
- Failing to respond to what is said
- Turning up the radio or TV much too loud
- Turning the head to one side to hear better
- Straining to hear
- Difficulty understanding in groups
- Avoiding social situations
- Blaming people for not speaking clearly
- Acting defensive about communication problems
- Having a puzzled expression when listening
- Intently watching the speaker’s mouth
- Talking too loudly or softly
Additional Hearing Loss Symptoms
Individuals who have already been diagnosed with some degree of loss report problems in the following situations:
- Trying to listen in a moving car
- Hearing in large group situations
- Following conversations when there are multiple speakers
- Understanding when people drop their voice
- Hearing alarm signals
- Understanding what is being said in medical situations
- Understanding people who are looking away while talking
- People misinterpreting when patient does not understand
- Understanding conversations while walking outside
- Understanding voices on televisions or films
- Following conversations at family gatherings
- Understanding conversations on the phone
- Understanding someone talking from another room
- Understanding what is said in noisy environments
- Difficulty understanding what is said in poorly lit environments
- Thinking the patient is ignoring the speaker when unaware speech is even present
- Understanding unclear speech or a foreign accent
Dealing with Hearing Loss Symptoms
With progressive hearing loss symptoms, the individual does not wake up one morning with complete loss of hearing. This is a gradual decrease of hearing that occurs sometimes over years. In this case, the manner or way the couple has communicated has to change or adapt in order to maintain effective communication.
After returning from Iraq many soldiers experience hearing loss symptoms, but along with this is also Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PSTD). It should be noted that “selective hearing” does indeed exist since the auditory system has an attention span as well and coupled with the often “drifting of the mind” as a result of PSTD, it is very possible that patients with both disabilities will not even realize (with or without hearing aids) that a message is being directed to him/her.
It is sometimes up to the loved one of a hearing impaired person to make communication possible. The easiest and most vital piece of information to give to your patients and his/her loved ones is to get the patient’s attention prior to relaying a message. Call his name or tap him, then ask him to mute the talk radio station or television and proceed to have a discourse. Be prepared for his first response, which is typically to say, “Just a second!” This is a hard way to live, but vital for hearing success.
It is very hard to change behavior, but the sacrifice of many of our military personnel who are returning with this type of loss makes teaching effective communication strategies as a part of hearing loss treatment and hearing aid success critical. Hearing loss treatment begins with hearing the sounds again with hearing aids and then practicing effective communication. Is communication important? Absolutely!
When faced with a hearing loss symptoms, there are common improvements including face-to-face communication, better hearing over the telephone and television and/or radio, more environmental awareness of sounds. Hearing aids are certainly the first step to meeting these goals. The bottom line is you must be able to hear the sounds, then understanding the sounds will come next. So, keep this in mind when dealing with hearing loss symptoms.