According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 5% of the world’s population suffers from disabling hearing loss — that’s 360 million people. It’s estimated that by 2050 this number will rise to one in 10 people, and yet many let signs of hearing loss go unaddressed.
Hearing loss can be frightening to experience, but in many cases, it’s possible to identify and treat the problem. Treatment is often more beneficial when started early, so if you think you might have symptoms of hearing loss or notice your hearing gradually worsening over time, you should always visit an audiologist for a hearing test.
It can be difficult to detect hearing loss, but there are some common warning signs to look out for:
1. You’re Often Asking People to Repeat Themselves
We all struggle to hear occasionally, but if you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves in conversation, this may be a sign of hearing loss. If it sounds as though people are mumbling or voices are muffled, it’s definitely worth visiting a hearing specialist and getting your hearing tested.
2. You Have Persistent Ringing in Your Ears
A ringing sound in your ears, also known as tinnitus, affects 15-20% of people. If you frequently experience this, it could be a warning sign of hearing loss — even if the ringing sound is relatively quiet. Tinnitus can be caused by a number of factors, from age-related hearing loss to injury or exposure to loud noise.
3. You Have Trouble Talking on the Phone
Hearing loss may make it difficult to hear properly when on the phone, especially if you’re in an area with lots of background noise. If you frequently struggle with phone calls, it could be more than just a bad connection.
4. You’re Always Turning up the Volume on the TV
Do you tend to turn up the volume on the TV or radio to the point that other people complain about how loud it is? If you’re the only one who can’t hear it at a lower volume, it’s probably not an issue with your device but rather a problem with your hearing.
5. You Struggle to Hear in Loud Places
When you’re out in noisy or busy places, do you struggle to hear specific sounds such as people talking to you? One sign of hearing loss that often goes unnoticed is finding it difficult to pick out individual sounds in loud environments — this might mean you struggle with conversations or miss announcements on public transport. If this is a symptom you struggle with, but you don’t experience hearing problems at home, you could still have low-level hearing loss and may benefit from a check-up.
6. You Don’t Hear Your Doorbell or Wake-up Alarm
If you frequently miss everyday noises such as your doorbell, wake-up alarm or ringtone, it’s possible that your hearing could be damaged. If you’ve noticed a pattern of sleeping through your alarm, missing calls or struggling to hear traffic, this could be a sign that you have an underlying hearing problem, and it’s time to arrange a hearing test.
7. You Twist Your Body to Hear
If you find yourself changing your position to hear better, this could also be a sign of hearing loss. Twisting your neck or body to one side may help you hear in the short term, but this may indicate that you’re experiencing hearing loss in one ear and compensating by using the other ear more often. In these cases, it’s likely that hearing will deteriorate further over time, eventually reaching a stage where such actions are no longer effective.
If you think you might have hearing loss, you should never be afraid to seek professional treatment. A hearing test can be performed quickly and provide peace of mind, so it’s always worth visiting a hearing specialist if you have any concerns.