Signs That You Are Hard of Hearing

Being hard of hearing is usually common in older people, but a growing number of younger adults are also becoming affected - often because they don’t protect their hearing against loud noises such as music, machinery, or environments like concerts and bars.

The damage will often happen gradually, over time. There are a number of signs that you might be hard of hearing that you should watch out for, though. Here are ten of the main ones.

1. You Have Trouble Hearing on the Phone

Mobile and landline phones have a volume control setting, so you might not even realize you are having trouble because you’ve cranked up the volume. Check your volume and lower it to about 50% of its limit. If you have trouble hearing the people you are talking to on the phone, then you might have experienced hearing loss.

2. You Have Difficulty Following Conversations with Three or More People

Being "lost" during a conversation isn’t always a sign of hearing loss because it can be difficult for our ears or brain to process a lot of auditory signals all at the same time. However, if you are in a meeting or sitting around the table with family, and can’t keep up and make sense of all that is being said, you might have a hearing problem.

3. People You Share Your Home With, or the Neighbors, Complain the Volume Is Too Loud

This might be in relation to the TV, radio, or music. If you get more than a couple of complaints, it’s time to visit an audiologist to get your hearing tested.

4. You Find Yourself Straining to Hear Things

This might be sounds other people tell you they can hear, or conversation with friends, family or colleagues. If you need to ask people to repeat themselves, or feel tired or headachy after dealing with other people, it could be a sign of hearing loss.

5. You Have Trouble Hearing in Noisy Environments

These can include public transportation, restaurants, and other locations with background noise, which can make it hard to focus on the people speaking with you.

6. You Ask People to Repeat Themselves Often

Some people do mumble, and cell phone reception isn’t perfect, but if you find yourself saying, "What?" a lot and asking them to repeat themselves, you may have hearing loss.

7. You Don’t Think People Speak as Clearly

If you find yourself wishing people would speak more clearly, you might be struggling with being able to hear high frequencies and therefore having difficulty understanding friends, family and colleagues.

8. You Misunderstand What People Say

Like the game Whispers, you feel like the person who is last to get the message. Maybe you’ll hear, "Eat a dog," not, "See the fog." These kinds of misunderstandings can be very embarrassing, and often result from high frequency hearing loss.

9. You Have Trouble Hearing Women and Children Speaking

Losing hearing in the high frequencies is usually the first sign of hearing loss as we age, so because women and children speak at higher pitches or frequencies, it will usually be harder to hear them than a male companion with a deep voice.

10. You Start to Get Frustrated Due to Your Problems Hearing

You become annoyed and frustrated during conversations, or are tired of straining to hear the TV. You feel like you are getting left behind at work because you are missing important points at meetings. You go to a restaurant and can’t enjoy the meal because you feel you’re missing out. All of these are common feelings that signal you’ve noticed a difference in your hearing and should get it checked.

One of the signs mentioned above may not be a big deal, but two or more means it’s time to deal with your hearing loss.