Signs of Hearing Loss

We were so delighted that CTV dropped by to visit Fischer Hearing Centre.  The interview sparked a lot of questions and discussions.  The most common question this week, was “How do I know if I have a hearing loss?”  We are happy to answer that question and provide a little more information regarding some common signs of hearing loss.

If you are experiencing hearing loss, you are certainly not alone.  If we are fortunate to live long enough, most of us will experience some degree of hearing loss.  Typically, the onset is very gradual, and can be caused by noise exposure, disease, aging, medication and diet, among other factors.

The National Institute on Aging estimates one-third of older adults have hearing loss and states that the chance of developing hearing loss increases with age.

Statistics Canada, in a report on The Hearing Health of Canadian Adults released in October 2021, declare 60% of Canadians aged 19-79 have a hearing problem.  The graph below illustrates how as we age, the prevalence of hearing loss increases.





As previously mentioned, hearing loss is often very gradual, sneaking up on us as we are living our best life.  What should we look for?  What are some of the signs of hearing loss?


Difficulty hearing children or women’s voices.  Often, the people we want to visit with the most, our children, grandchildren and spouses, are the most difficult to hear.  Hearing, especially noise induced hearing loss (farming, agriculture, construction) often deteriorates first in the high frequencies making children and female voices more difficult to hear and understand.  Instead of hearing clearly, we struggle, and a common complaint is that “If people would speak clearly, I could hear,” “If people would stop mumbling, I could hear.”

When we miss too much of a word, or a sentence, the brain just can’t get enough information to easily follow a conversation.  If you think of the gameshow “Wheel of Fortune,” think how much easier it is to solve the puzzle as more letters are revealed.


Asking for frequent repetition, for people to speak up.  We often must ask for repetition, even those of us with normal hearing.  When we have hearing loss, asking for repetition becomes more and more frequent.  We may ask someone to repeat themselves once, maybe even twice.  After that, it is more likely you will pretend you understood, nod your head in agreement, even if you are unsure of the conversation or topic.  This can lead to a lack of confidence in social situations, withdrawing from events that were previously enjoyed and anticipated.  Much research has been done investigating the association between untreated hearing loss, social isolation, loneliness and depression. The American Academy of Audiology suggests that when an individual’s communication is impaired due to hearing loss, it may result in withdrawing from social activities including those with family and friends, church, and meetings.  Previously active and vibrant people retreating rather than participating and anticipating a social outing.  We enjoy these activities because we get to engage with others.  We dread them because groups and crowded rooms can make hearing and understanding so much more difficult.


Difficulty hearing in background or competing noise.  Hearing and understanding speech in background noise is difficult for all of us.  This becomes more difficult with even mild hearing loss.  “I can hear, but I can’t understand” is a very common complaint.   Spouses often complain of their partners “selective hearing.”  When we are trying to visit or communicate in a noisy place, the separation between speech sound and noise is reduced.  The louder the room, the more difficult it is for the brain to sort out the speech or the signal needed to understand what is being said.  In an environment where there is background or competing noise, those with a hearing loss must work even harder to hear.  It is physically and mentally exhausting to have to work to hear.   Facial cues and expressions become even more important, we need to use context cues, the words or speech we do understand, to help fill in the gaps we miss. The greater the hearing loss, the more difficult these situations become.   When we think of noisy environments, we often think of busy restaurants, airports or a Rider game.  A family gathering with 6-8 people can be a very difficult environment for someone with hearing loss.  These social gatherings are so important, yet so difficult for someone suffering from hearing loss.


Turning up the volume of the television or radio.  Have you ever walked into someone’s home and the tv is so loud?  Or, when you call, in the background you can hear the tv or the radio blaring?  When we have hearing loss, and we live alone, we can often use our environment as a hearing aid.  If I am alone, and I am having difficulty hearing, I can turn my tv as loud as I need it to be.  Unless someone comes over.  Or the neighbor beside me complains.  I may not realize my tv volume is too loud for others until someone tells me.  “Mom!  Why do you have the tv so loud?”  “Candace has the tv so loud, I can hear it halfway down the hallway.”  We can use our environment as an amplifier or aid, until it affects someone else.  If it is too loud for my spouse, I may have to reduce the volume to a level where I can no longer comfortably hear it.   The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that having the tv or radio volume too loud is another indicator or sign of hearing loss.


Thanks so much for the question of the week.  These are just a few of the signs of hearing loss that family and friends can watch out for.  If any of the above are identified by you, or a loved one, a hearing test is recommended.  Call Fischer Hearing Centre to book your hearing test.  With state-of-the-art equipment, and over 32 years of experience, our Audiologist, Candace Fischer, is here to help you hear better, every day!f