Hearing changes are often times progressively slow, and the effects of those changes can go unnoticed until you start paying attention. I am an audiologist at ENT Associates, and understand the effects of mild hearing loss in patients. I am able to relate to those patients I help because I am also starting to experience mild changes in my hearing.
I first questioned my hearing acuity at a recent dinner party. There was background noise, music playing, and many people gathered in a large open room. I was sitting at a round table with friends and engaging in conversation. I noted difficulty hearing those across the table, and my friend next to me who was telling me about his recent travels. I was straining to hear, and was unable to understand him. I moved closer and looked directly at him to help enhance my ability to hear what he was telling me. It was challenging and a bit draining! I finally realized he had “travelled to Hawaii”, and was not asking “How are you?”! This dinner party helped me appreciate the difficulty my patients with mild hearing loss experience when conversing in the presence of background noise. My recent experience also prompted me to have a hearing evaluation.
The hearing evaluation explained my recent difficulty. It indicated that my hearing has changed in the very highest frequencies. High frequencies are treble sounds as opposed to base sounds which are the low frequencies. High frequency hearing is responsible for clarity and distinction in speech and words. When hearing begins to change in the high frequencies, many people (like me) will note difficulty hearing in the presence of background noise. If voices are softer and have more of the high frequency tone, it may be even more challenging to hear. For me personally, my loss is not severe enough for amplification, but is does explain my recent difficulty and has prompted me to monitor my hearing for possible further change. I also need to execute communication strategies including visual cues while having conversations in background noise.
If you experience difficulty hearing in back ground noise, it is recommended that you obtain a hearing evaluation by a licensed audiologist to rule out hearing loss. Hearing changes can be so gradual that you may be adapting to those changes and compensating in ways you don’t even realize. You might be unaware of all the speech sounds you are missing because you are not hearing them. Difficulty hearing in background noise is just one indicator of hearing change.
Listed below are some other signs of hearing loss.
- When in a crowd or busy restaurant, is it hard for you to follow the discussion?
- Do people seem to mumble or talk in a softer voice than they used to?
- Do you feel the need to turn the volume up on your TV or radio such that it is too loud for others?
- Do you often ask others to repeat themselves?
- Has someone close to you pointed out that you may have hearing problems?
If you or a loved one answered yes to any of the questions asked above we encourage you to have a hearing evaluation and determine if amplification could help. To schedule a hearing evaluation please call our office at 260-469-6919.