When your hearing starts to decline, it’s the little things that stand out in your mind — small issues that change in your life and grab your attention. Chances are it’s the change that will eventually get you to the ear doctor, but, until then, how can you overcome these very familiar hearing-related problems? If you’re one of the millions of people in the United States that is experiencing some kind of hearing loss, consider five things you might notice and what you can do about them.
That sound you imagine you are hearing is really just an annoying side effect your hearing change — one that can grate on your nerves. Tinnitus is a flag that usually indicates hearing decline, especially as a person gets older. Not everyone hears ringing, though, for some people it’s a:
Regardless of what sound you think you hear, it will take it’s toll eventually.
Begin by learning to recognize things that can sometimes trigger tinnitus such as drinking coffee or soda. Keep a log and record what you do right before the noise starts such as using your headphone to listen to some tunes or putting extra salt on your food. Over time, you will identify your personal tinnitus triggers and be able to eliminate them.
You may also need to find ways to cover this noise up, especially at night when you are trying to fall asleep. Something as simple as a fan running in the room can mask the sound of tinnitus and give you some relief.
2. Problems Following Conversation
Gradual hearing loss can mean you start noticing people mumble more or certain words are never clear. Hearing aids will go a long way towards eliminating all these issues. If you are not quite ready to go down that road, there are a few tricks you might try.
Put yourself in the best position to hear. Face the person you are talking to and look at them as they speak. The combination of what you hear and what you see might be enough to clarify things.
Go out of your way to have conversations in quiet areas, too. Background noise will make it harder to understand speech. Step away from fans and turn off the TV, for instance.
Ask for clarification when you can. If you are having problems hearing, it’s probably not a secret, so just put it out there. Telling someone you are talking to that you have a hearing challenge is enough to get them to speak clearly and turn up the volume a bit.
Fighting to hear every word is exhausting and that fatigue catches up with you. Looking for ways to eliminate that extra stress such as wearing hearing aids can reduce your frustration, but so will learning different relaxation techniques. Find a hobby that refocuses your mind, something like learning to paint or crochet. Practice extreme breathing exercises, too. They will teach you the art of calming yourself when you feel overcome with stress.
One of the best ways to handle this type of chaos, though, is to exercise daily. Working out forces your body to release hormones that help calm you and make everything seem less stressful.
4. Social Withdrawal
Loss of hearing will leave you feeling left out of the loop and maybe different than everyone else in some way — like you can’t understand even the simplest of things anymore. That’s will make anyone want to turn down a chance to get out with friends. As a result, you may end up spending more time alone and socially isolated.
The way to get back your life is to accept what is happening to you. Once you take that step, you can find ways to fight the desire to avoid time with family and friends. When you do head out for the night, tell the people you are with about your struggle. You might find that instead of being alone, you end up with a support system that can help.
Age-related hearing loss is usually slow, so it’s easy to deny. Individuals often blame other things like the old TV or that one friend who never did speak very clear. Watch for patterns in your thinking and listen to what your friends and family are telling you. It’s not uncommon for the family to be the first to notice someone they love has hearing loss.
Don’t forget, too, you can eliminate most of these problems in one swoop just by getting an ear exam, a proper diagnosis and, maybe, hearing aids. If even one of these scenarios sounds familiar, then it’s time to for a professional hearing test.