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If you have hearing loss, you might think it would be obvious, right?

Actually, that’s precisely the problem; many people believe it would. Unfortunately, although severe or sudden hearing loss is easy to detect, mild to moderate progressive hearing loss can be far too subtle to observe. That’s why, on average, people will wait five years or longer from the onset of symptoms to search for help.

Picture hearing loss as a slow leak in a tire. It’s difficult to notice the day to day changes, and it’s only when the tire becomes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you choose to act.

Regrettably, while tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be to some extent restored, but the sooner you attend to your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll recoup.

So how can you notice the symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Below are some of the hidden signs that indicate you should consider a professional hearing test.

1. Difficulty hearing particular sounds

Commonly people believe that hearing loss affects all types of sounds. Therefore, if you can hear some sounds normally, you believe you can hear all sounds normally.

Don’t get trapped into this mode of thinking. The truth is that hearing loss primarily impacts higher-frequency sounds. You may discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, as an example, because of the higher pitch.

This may lead you to think that the individuals you can’t hear are mumbling, when the reality is, you have high-frequency hearing loss.

2. Depending on context to understand

Somebody is talking from behind you and you can’t understand what they’re saying until you turn around and face them. You have to depend on body language, and possibly lip reading, for additional information used to fill in the blanks.

Speech is composed of a range of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the lower frequencies. The problem for those with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants transmit the most meaning yet are the most difficult to hear.

If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is just like reading a sentence with missing letters. Normally, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may find yourself replying inappropriately or requesting people to repeat themselves often. You may also experience difficulty hearing on the phone.

3. Difficulty hearing in loud surroundings

With mild hearing loss, you can normally decode what other people are saying, albeit with a lot of effort. Once background noise is presented, on the other hand, the task usually becomes overwhelming.

You might discover that it’s overwhelming to hear in group settings or in loud environments like at restaurants or social gatherings. The competing sounds and background noise are muffling your already compromised hearing, making it exceedingly difficult to focus on any one source of sound.

4. Listening Fatigue

Last, you may notice that you’re more fatigued than normal after work or after participation in group settings. For those with hearing loss, the continuing struggle to hear, combined with the effort to understand incomplete sounds, can produce extreme exhaustion, which is a non-obvious symptom of hearing loss.

Hearing loss is progressive and ends up being more difficult to treat the longer you delay. If you experience any of these symptoms, even if they’re only mild, we strongly recommend scheduling a hearing test. By acting earlier, you can conserve your hearing and stay connected to your family and friends.