It’s not always easy to spot the symptoms of hearing loss. Things we expect, like turning the TV volume up or not hearing when their name is called, aren’t necessarily signs of hearing loss—and things we don’t expect often are.
Here are six signs that it’s time to see a hearing specialist:
1. Frequent falling/other signs of poor balance
The ability to balance is deeply connected to how well the inner ear functions. Unexplained vertigo, frequent falling, or clumsiness—especially in someone who’s never been clumsy before—are all potential signs of hearing loss.
Falls can also lead to broken bones and other severe injuries, particularly in seniors, so if you notice these signs you should take your relative to a hearing specialist immediately.
2. Forgetting things
When an elderly relative begins forgetting everyday things most people’s first assumption is dementia, but this isn’t always the case. Hearing loss is also connected to cognitive decline, and this effect can be dramatically lessened by treatment such as a hearing aid.
A hearing specialist can help you either discover the problem and find treatment or at least rule out hearing loss. Either way, it’s a good first step towards better health.
3. Fear of socialization/going out
It’s embarrassing to admit that you can’t hear an ordinary conversation, and frustrating for everyone to make people repeat themselves all the time. Many people would rather cling to their dignity in isolation than risk exposing their issues. Often these issues are also exacerbated by going into loud environments, as their ears become overwhelmed and it’s difficult to distinguish specific sounds.
Fear of going out may also be related to other symptoms, such as frequent falling, as these can make even getting around the house a dramatic endeavor. If this fear is the main symptom you notice, talk to your relative about it and ask what’s going on. They might reveal something completely different.
4. They seem to have a particular problem hearing women or kids
Hearing loss associated with ageing often begins with specific frequencies at the higher end of the spectrum. Women and children naturally tend to speak in these higher frequencies, which can make them difficult for someone with hearing loss to understand.
This one may be a little harder to spot in a relative as it requires seeing your loved one in various social contexts, but it’s definitely important to watch for.
Most people know that tinnitus is a ringing sensation in the ears, but what they don’t know is that it’s often an early sign of hearing loss. The sensation of tinnitus is actually your brain being hyper aware of the fact that your ears aren’t picking up enough sound.
If your loved one frequently complains about a ringing or humming sensation, it’s time to see an audiologist.
6. Failure to respond to loud noises
This is the most obvious item on the list, but it still needs to be mentioned. Here we also have to note that children can also suffer from hearing loss, and failure to respond to loud noises is often one of the first signs for kids. Hearing is incredibly important to language development, so if you’re concerned about your child’s hearing you should book an appointment with a specialist right away.
Once you’ve identified signs of potential hearing loss there are a few options for treatment. Many specialists require a referral from your primary physician, but you can sometimes book an appointment with a specialist directly if you agree to sign a waiver. This is usually to comply with legal regulations on the healthcare industry.