The symptoms of many physical conditions and impairments are obvious. Sore throat and runny nose? You likely have a cold. Can’t clearly see the words on a magazine or phone? You’ll get your eyes checked.
Hearing loss — the third most common physical condition in the world — isn’t usually as obvious. Much of that can be attributed to its gradualness: the TV volume needs to be a little louder, people seem to mumble more, and it’s harder to make out conversations in a restaurant. Other people will notice that they have to repeat themselves to you more.
So, how do you know if you have hearing loss short of testing it? In honor of May being Better Hearing and Speech Month1, American Hearing Benefits compiled seven signs that people with hearing loss typically exhibit:
- You frequently ask others to repeat themselves — If you need to be looking at someone to hear what they say (by also reading their lips), your hearing might be fading.
- You turn the TV to a volume others find loud — When you can’t have a conversation because your TV is too loud, it’s time to get a hearing test.
- You have trouble understanding conversations in noisy places — This is one of the first challenges people with hearing loss encounter: hearing what someone else is saying in a loud place, like a restaurant.
- You have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices — High-frequency hearing loss is common — so it’s to be expected that high-frequency sounds become tough to hear.
- You feel like others are mumbling — If you have a 16-year old son like many do, you’ll swear that they are mumbling. It’s most likely half and half.
- You avoid social situations that were once enjoyable — People who can’t engage easily, feel left out of conversations, or who have bad experiences trying to hear in public spaces often decide it’s easier to decline invitations and stay at home. It doesn’t have to be this way.
- You are told by others that you have hearing loss — If more than one friend or family member questions your hearing acuity — in seriousness or jest — guess what? They could be onto something.
If any of these symptoms are showing up for you or a loved one, it’s important to take the next step and have your hearing evaluated by a hearing professional. Hearing screenings are painless and easy, and doctors can often explain your results to you immediately.