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If you suffer from hearing loss, you would assume it would be obvious, right?

Actually, that’s exactly the problem; most people assume it would. Unfortunately, while severe or abrupt hearing loss is easy to recognize, mild to moderate developing 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 seek out help.

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

Regrettably, whereas tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be to a certain extent restored, but the sooner you treat your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll recover.

So how can you determine the symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? The following are some of the hidden signs that indicate you should get a hearing test.

1. Difficulty hearing specific sounds

Frequently people assume that hearing loss affects all types of sounds. So, if you can hear some sounds normally, you assume you can hear all sounds normally.

Do not get stuck into this mode of reasoning. The reality is that hearing loss predominately impacts higher-frequency sounds. You may discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for example, due to the higher pitch.

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

2. Relying on context to comprehend speech

Someone is speaking from behind you and you can’t comprehend what they’re saying until you turn around and face them. You are forced to rely on body language, and potentially lip reading, for additional information to fill in the blanks.

Speech consists of a range of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the low frequencies. The issue for people with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants convey the most meaning yet are the most difficult to hear.

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

3. Difficulty hearing in noisy settings

With mild hearing loss, you can normally decipher what others are saying, albeit with a lot of effort. Once background noise is presented, however, the task often becomes overwhelming.

You may discover that it’s overwhelming to hear in group settings or in noisy environments like restaurants or social gatherings. The competing sounds and background noise are muffling your already affected hearing, making it exceptionally difficult to concentrate on any single source of sound.

4. Listening Fatigue

Finally, you may notice that you’re more fatigued than normal after work or after participation in group settings. For people with hearing loss, the chronic fight to hear, together with the effort to understand incomplete sounds, can create severe exhaustion, which is a non-obvious symptom of hearing loss.

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