In today’s world, a hearing loss doesn’t have to ruin your quality of life as there are so many solutions available. Unfortunately, many people spend years with an undiagnosed loss meaning that they suffer needlessly.
For this reason, we have created this list of signs to look out for if you suspect that you, or someone you know has a hearing problem.
Obviously, a baby can’t tell you if they are having a problem, we have to figure that out for ourselves. With a hearing loss at this age it can be difficult to determine but here are some key things to watch for.
- They don’t react to loud noises
Even from quite a young age, babies will show surprise at a sudden loud noise. If there is no reaction, this could be a big indicator of a hearing problem.
- They don’t react when you call them
Although babies do not understand words, as they get older, they react to voices when spoken to. If the baby does not turn to look at you when you speak to them, it could mean they have a hearing loss.
- They cannot say single words by the end of their first year
By the age of one, most babies have learned things like ‘Mama’, ‘Dada’, and, of course, the word ‘No’! If your child cannot form any words by this age it could mean that their development has been slowed by a hearing loss.
- They hear some things, but not others
As different sounds are at different frequencies, if a baby seems to hear some sounds and not others, it could indicate a hearing loss. High frequency loss is more common meaning that they may not hear children’s or women’s voices as well as male voices.
As children get older, it can become easier to recognise the signs of a hearing loss. Development in school and social skills can be greatly affected but often the child will not discuss the problem.
- Speech development
If your child has difficulty forming words correctly or mumbling, it could be because they do not hear the words clearly enough to learn them. This can be distressing for the child and often make them less willing to try as they feel ‘stupid’.
- Always saying “What?”
If your child is constantly asking people to repeat themselves they could potentially be suffering from a hearing loss. Sometimes this can be dismissed as the child simply not listening properly but it could realistically be that they honestly cannot hear what is said.
- Talking very Loudly
If the child has a hearing loss then everything will sound different in their own ears. This can lead to them talking at a loud level without them realising.
- They always have their TV or music volume really loud
As parents know, this could simply be kids being kids. It can also mean that they NEED the volume up this loud. If they always listen at a high level, it may not necessarily be misbehaviour, it could be a sign that they are experiencing hearing problems.
- Bad Behaviour
For many parents, the occasional episode of bad behaviour is normal. If they are constantly acting out and there does not seem to be any reason for it, this could be a sign of hearing difficulty. The inability to hear can be frustrating and missing out on instructions, particularly at school can make them feel singled out. Watch out for them appearing to ignore people like yourself or teachers as they may not be doing it on purpose.
- Avoiding friends and spending a lot of time alone
Most children want to be out playing as much as possible. If your child actively avoids things like birthday parties or play date invitations, it could be that there is an underlying reason. Children will feel left out if they cannot join in with everyone else and this can lead to depression and a feeling of loneliness. If they keep getting invited places and refuse to go, it could be a clue that perhaps they feel they CAN’T join in.
Children can be difficult to figure out, especially as they get older and they can switch moods in a split second. The signs above don’t necessarily mean that they have a hearing problem but if you notice any of these and are worried at all, the best thing you can do is get it checked.
An adult will usually know if they are having hearing difficulties. The problem is that many adults will not admit it. It can be frightening to discover that you have a hearing loss no matter how old you are but, without treatment, it is unlikely to get better. If you, or a family member or friend shows any of the following symptoms, it may be worth getting a hearing test.
- Always having music or television volume high
Like children, many adults will raise the volume levels without realising just how loud it is. If you find that you need to do this often and, possibly, it still sounds like people are mumbling, then you may be suffering from a hearing loss.
- Always asking people to repeat themselves
Like we mentioned in the children’s section, if you are constantly asking people to say things more than once it can mean you have hearing difficulties. If you often miss parts of conversation, find certain sounds difficult to hear or misunderstand what people are saying then you need to get your hearing checked.
- Doesn’t hear phone calls or people at the door
Doorbells and phone ring tones are often high frequency sounds which means that many people with a hearing loss will often miss these sounds. If you, or someone you know is frequently unable to hear these sounds then there may be a hearing loss.
- Find group situations difficult
A hearing loss can be made worse by crowded situations because of the level of background noise. Often, people in this situation will become irritable or seem to be completely ignoring the conversation.
- Avoiding social situations
As mentioned above, these can be difficult for people with a hearing loss. It is common for someone with hearing problems to become withdrawn and refuse to participate in social activities. This can lead to depression and anxiety so if you notice yourself or a loved one beginning to avoid social interaction it could be a clue that they are having hearing difficulties.
Hearing loss can be distressing for both sufferers and for parents of children who have this condition. There are a great number of different solutions available to manage almost all types of hearing loss so there is no reason to suffer in silence. If you notice any of these signs, or indeed, anything else that causes you concern, the best thing you can do is get it checked by a professional audiologist.