In most cases, a patient does not realize that they are losing their hearing. This is because people do not relate these symptoms, such as difficulties in maintaining attention, social isolation, and depression, among others, with hearing loss or deafness.
Knowing the signs of hearing loss or deafness can help an individual to quickly seek medical attention as needed.
Difficulty communicating in noisy places
This is mainly due to the difficulty of listening in places with noises, such as in shopping malls, parties, fairs, among others. Background sounds have a great influence on people at all levels of hearing loss and reduces speech understanding.
For this reason, it is important to observe whether the person is unwilling to talk in noisy environments or that he/she does not understand what other people say, always asking others to repeat the information or isolating themselves.
Lip reading during the conversation
Difficulties with communication are one of the main signs of hearing loss and they usually start with not understanding speech. Often, the person listens, but cannot understand the words. In such cases, it is common for the person to ask to repeat what has been said several times.
Another point that deserves attention is when there is understanding of speech only when they speak in front of the person, that is, when there is the possibility of them using lip reading as a tool to help in understanding.
It is also common to find it difficult to understand female or children’s voices on the phone (which are usually higher-pitched sounds). Over time, this problem worsens and occurs during face-to-face dialogues.
Tinnitus can be characterized by the perception of a sound that is not related to any external sound stimulus, and sounds like ringing, clicks, buzzes, or hisses. They can also be continuous or intermittent, causing stress and discomfort.
Although it is not necessarily one of the causes of hearing loss, the appearance of tinnitus can occur if the hearing loss is not treated. Therefore, tinnitus can be a sign of alteration in the auditory pathway, responsible for driving sounds to the brain.
Has an intolerance to loud sounds
A very common aspect in patients with hearing loss is hypersensitivity to loud or not so loud sounds. For example, when the elderly complain about the high volume of music on the radio, which, in fact, is at normal levels tolerated by people with normal hearing.
This explains why speaking too loudly to deaf patients can be harmful. In addition to the discomfort, as we have already commented, the low frequency vowels (low sounds) are amplified, while the consonants (usually medium and high sounds) remain inaudible, which can cause great discomfort for the patient and he/she will still not understand what is being said.
Thus, it is important to note that in hearing loss in the elderly, the challenges they face are related to the frequencies of the sound as much as to the intensity itself. Therefore, speaking too loudly or shouting only makes sense if the patient has other causes for hearing loss, such as excessive earwax in the ear that can obstruct the passage of sound.
Difficulty hearing electronic devices
The individual begins to have difficulty listening to electronic devices and gradually begins to show a need to increase the volume.
When music from the radio and TV shows are accompanied by background noise, it makes it even more difficult to understand what is being said.
The difficulty in listening causes social isolation, causing a great impact on the person’s quality of life, even leading to low self-esteem. To avoid embarrassing situations, it is common for the elderly to lose interest in sharing thoughts and feelings as a result of their hearing loss.
The limitation that the person feels to do simple things, such as going to the movies, watching TV or meeting with family members, added to the feeling of uselessness, can cause a depressive state.
In this case, multidisciplinary treatment involving several specialized professionals, such as an ENT / otolaryngologist, audiologist, speech therapist and psychologist, is often necessary in order to assist the patient in this process.
Importance of diagnosis
Many people who have hearing problems do not know that they have this problem or do not take the initiative to seek the help of a specialized professional.
Hearing loss and deafness can be a difficult experience. In order to deal with individuals who are going through this, it is essential that the people closest to them pay attention to the signs and seek help from an audiologist or ENT specialist in order to indicate the most appropriate treatment.
It is important to keep in mind that there are already solutions for almost all types of hearing loss, such as high-tech hearing aids and cochlear implants. The daily use of the hearing device, the accompaniment with trained professionals, and the support of the family are fundamental for these people to be able to recover their self-esteem and quality of life.
As we have seen, hearing loss and deafness is capable of causing serious consequences, especially for the elderly, such as depression and the loss of quality of life. Therefore, it is essential to be alert to the signs of hearing loss and seek a top-rated health professional for an evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.
What’s to know about deafness and hearing loss? Medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH — Written by Adam Felman on June 27, 2018
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