Early onset hearing loss is usually ignored for the following reasons -
- it is mild, painless, very gradually progressive and there are early compensatory mechanisms - increase the volume, sit closer to the person, attempt lip reading, and if the hearing loss is in one ear - then place the better hearing ear towards the speaker.
There was a time that as hearing care specialists we did not pay much heed to early onset of hearing loss. However, recent studies have led us to take even early hearing loss seriously as well as to offer remedies for the same.
So what would be the 5 early Signs of hearing loss?
1. Asking people to repeat themselves
Since hearing loss increases with age, it is usually the older person who more often has this problem- it is commonly seen that an elderly person may tell you - " Speak loudly, don't mumble!" This is an indication that you may not be hearing very well
2. Increasing the volume of gadgets in the house - so the TV or the Radio is played at an increased volume - this tends to disturb other members of the household. Watch out for this - if your parent or grandparent listens to the TV at an extremely high volume - kindly have their hearing checked out immediately.
3. You miss out sounds commonly heard by others - like the ringing of the phone or the sound of the doorbell. The common complaint from other members of the house would be - Why didn't you open the door - didn't you hear the bell?
4. You avoid going for functions where many persons will be talking together - because you are scared you will not hear clearly and that people may laugh at you. in such a situation everything sounds like noise to you-you cannot understand what is being said.
5. People tell you that you are speaking loudly - usually in a joint family household, it is your grandchild who will tell you this first!
Let us look at the problem in children - it has been clearly established that even a few days of impaired hearing in children has an immediate and direct impact on their literacy and numeracy skills. Their interpersonal skills, as well as peer interactions, also suffer. in fact, vigilant mothers know that the child's hearing is affected just by the change in the behaviour of the child!
In the older person, we have clearly established that there are serious long-term repercussions of untreated hearing loss and these may be depression, social isolation, lack of sense of purpose all leading to a poor quality of life.
What should you do?
At the first sign of a hearing loss as highlighted above, kindly meet an ENT specialist, get your ears thoroughly examined and undergo an Audiogram (hearing test) if felt appropriate by the Doctor.
An early rehabilitation of hearing loss is critical - do not delay the decision to see the doctor and in seeking remedial action.