February 26, 2024

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

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For some people, there is no illusion that hearing loss is underway. If you notice a new inability to understand people in public and private settings, turn up the television to a loud volume, or find yourself moving closer to sound sources, you might be well-aware that you have some hearing loss. Some people know that they have hearing loss yet remain unwilling to seek the treatment they need.

Yet, there is another group of people who might not realize they have hearing loss at all. These people are likely getting by as best they can with the hearing ability they have. They might be taking unconscious shortcuts in communication to either get closer to understanding what is going on or to mask their embarrassment at not following the conversation.

Let’s pay attention to this group of people, looking more closely at the signs that hearing loss might be an underlying cause of communication difficulties.

Asking Others to Repeat Themselves

In many cases, hearing loss leads us to ask others to repeat themselves, but we might not even realize we’re doing it. With that repeated phrase “What was that?” is uttered so often, many people with hearing loss don’t even realize they’re saying it anymore. Each of us misses something in conversation from time to time, but the frequency of those requests for others to repeat themselves can be a sure sign of an underlying need for a hearing test.

Missing Important Information

If you have taken part in a conversation, stepped away from the situation, then later learned that you missed out on important information, the background reason for the misunderstanding might be hearing loss. In the context of a face-to-face conversation, we follow lots of bodily and facial cues to put together a whole picture of intended meaning, but hearing loss can obscure crucial details that change the entire landscape. If you find yourself getting the facts or information wrong after someone else says they’ve told you, it might not be your inattention to detail that is at fault.

Feeling Socially Isolated

Even if you’re able to get by in conversations, you might notice a rising tendency to simply “check out” in groups. If others are having a conversation, it is natural to pay attention and join in when appropriate. However, those with undiagnosed hearing loss tend to find themselves mentally wandering during conversations. If you find that you struggle to pay attention to what others are saying, losing interest, or tuning out others’ speech, then hearing loss might be the underlying cause. In the worst cases, this experience can lead those with hearing loss to feel socially isolated. Even when they are in a group of people, a party, or a dinner out at a restaurant, the underlying feeling of being alone can creep in for someone who can’t follow what’s going on. Even when it is no fault of others, hearing loss can cause this sense of isolation for some people before they realize the underlying reason.

Seeking Treatment

The good news is that you don’t need to struggle with communication without assistance. If it is true that undiagnosed hearing loss is the underlying cause of your difficulty, your hearing health provider is there to determine what your hearing needs look like and how they can help. The first step will be to get a thorough diagnosis through a hearing test. This hearing test simply plays pure tones at different pitches and volumes to determine the threshold of what you can and can’t hear. Once the results of that test are in, your hearing professional can assess which ranges of sound are most difficult for you to discern. With that information in hand, as well as a consultation with you to learn unique features of your lifestyle and needs, our team can recommend a range of hearing aids or other assistive technology, if necessary. You will be guided through the process of selection to balance the features you desire with the budget you have available. If you are concerned that your communication difficulties might be a sign of undiagnosed hearing loss, contact us today to schedule a consultation!

Dr. Teague earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Hearing, Speech and Language from Ohio University and his Doctoral Degree in Audiology from The University of Louisville. He is an active member of the American Academy of Audiology and the Ohio Board of Audiology.

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