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If you have hearing loss, you would think it would be obvious, right?

Actually, that’s exactly the problem; most people think it would. Unfortunately, even though severe or abrupt hearing loss is easy to detect, mild to moderate developing hearing loss can be too subtle to notice. That’s why, on average, people will wait more than five years from the onset of symptoms to seek out help.

Think of hearing loss as a slow leak in a tire. It’s difficult to observe the daily changes, and it’s only when the tire goes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you choose to act.

Regrettably, while tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be partly restored, but the sooner you treat your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll restore.

So how can you recognize the symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Here are some of the hidden signs that indicate you should get a professional hearing examination.

1. Difficulties hearing certain sounds

Oftentimes people believe that hearing loss impacts all types of sounds. Therefore, if you can hear some sounds normally, you assume you can hear all sounds normally.

Do not get stuck into this mode of thinking. The reality is that hearing loss principally affects higher-frequency sounds. You might discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for instance, because of the higher pitch.

This may lead you to think that the individuals you can’t hear are mumbling, when in reality, you have high-frequency hearing loss.

2. Depending on context to understand

Someone is speaking from behind you and you can’t comprehend what they’re saying until you turn around and face them. You have to rely on body language, and possibly lip reading, for additional information used to fill in the blanks.

Speech consists of an assortment of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the low frequencies. The problem for people with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants transmit the the majority of the meaning yet are the most difficult to hear.

If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is much like reading a sentence with missing letters. Most of the time, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may find yourself responding inappropriately or asking people to repeat themselves regularly. You might also have difficulties hearing on the phone.

3. Difficulty hearing in noisy settings

With mild hearing loss, you can typically decipher what other people are saying, albeit with a lot of effort. Once background noise is presented, however, the task usually becomes overwhelming.

You may discover that it’s difficult to hear in group settings or in loud environments like at restaurants or parties. The competing sounds and background noise are muffling your already affected hearing, making it extremely difficult to concentrate on any single source of sound.

4. Listening Fatigue

Last, you may observe that you’re more exhausted than normal after work or after participation in group settings. For individuals with hearing loss, the continuing fight to hear, combined with the effort to grasp incomplete sounds, can produce extreme exhaustion, which is a non-obvious symptom of hearing loss.

Hearing loss is progressive and becomes more complicated to treat the longer you wait. If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, even if they’re only minor, we strongly encourage scheduling a hearing test. By taking action earlier, you can preserve your hearing and stay connected to your family and friends.

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