The holidays are a time of year when being able to hear clearly is crucial. Besides getting to enjoy the sound of silver bells, caroling, Hallmark channel Christmas shows and the snap and fizzle of a merrily dancing fire in the fireplace, it's a time for family and friends to gather and socialize, sometimes in quite noisy circumstances, which means your sense of hearing will be put to the test.
"The signs of hearing loss can be subtle and emerge slowly, or early signs of hearing loss can be significant and come about suddenly," the Better Hearing Institute explained. "Either way, there are common indications and hearing impaired signs."
Here are some subtle signs that might become more clear during the holidays and some ways a visit to a hearing professional might help.
Avoidance of social situations
Have you always loved getting together with friends and family? Yet now you avoid times and places you might have to hold conversations with others?
This could be caused by a feeling of frustration because you can't understand what others are saying or because you feel embarrassed from experiences when you had to ask people to repeat themselves or you responded inappropriately to a conversation thread.
Fatigue after family gatherings
Some amount of tiredness after a family party is understandable, but if you feel more tired than usual or you feel mentally as well as physically exhausted after the party, hearing loss might be to blame.
When one part of the body isn't functioning correctly, the brain makes adjustments to compensate. When you can't hear others clearly, you'll have to focus harder to follow a conversation, or your eyes may automatically shift to watching people's lips to understand what they're saying.
If hearing loss is affecting a loved one, you may notice they don't turn as quickly when someone addresses them or they don't make eye contact because they're too busy watching your mouth move.
People tell you your TV or radio is too loud
When people come to visit, do they ask if they can turn down the volume on your TV or radio? Do you notice it's difficult to hear what people on TV are saying over ambient noise or background music? This is another sign of hearing loss.
Some people describe the sound they hear as "muffled" or "clogged." Occasionally, this can be caused by a buildup of earwax, according to WebMD. But other times, it's due to nerve-related hearing loss.
Difficulty understanding women or children
When a person loses hearing, sounds in the highest register go first. A simple test can tell you if you've suffered hearing loss: Try to listen to crickets on a quiet night. Not being able to hear crickets when others can could be a sign you've lost some hearing.
Similarly, the voices of women and children are higher on the sound register than men's, so you may find it more difficult to understand them than men if your hearing isn't as sharp as it used to be.
New treatments offer solutions to hearing loss
If you or a loved one has suffered hearing loss, there are many treatments that can alleviate the symptoms and help you live life to the fullest. Scheduling an appointment with an audiologist is the first step toward achieving your hearing goals.
"Make a list of your activities and bring them to your appointment — from work to social to recreational — so your doctor can recommend the best hearing device and treatment for your individual needs," suggests the American Hearing Aid Center of South Bay.
New technological advancements have made hearing aids smaller, less noticeable and very effective. Certain kinds also offer a Bluetooth function, which lets you sync your hearing aids with a smartphone, allowing you to enjoy wireless sound without needing earbuds, headphones or speakers.
To learn more about signs of hearing loss or to schedule a hearing test, call or visit the American Hearing Aid Center of South Bay today.