These signs and symptoms of hearing loss may surprise you. A hearing impairment can lead to more than just having to turn up the volume. From depression and anxiety to cognitive decline, a hearing loss can cause psychological, emotional, physical, and social side effects that can permanently impact your overall quality of life.

Prevention and protection are key in helping to preserve your or your loved ones’ quality of life. Here are our helpful tips to see if someone you love is suffering from hearing loss:

1. Watch to see if their balance is off.

Responsible for our body’s balance, the vestibular system in the inner ear could be causing hearing problems as well as stability issues.

2. Does the person switch which direction they lean in during conversation?

One ear could be affected over the other, causing them to attempt to use their “good ear.”

3. Are they less active in noisy places than they once were?

With moderate hearing loss, higher voices and higher-pitch sounds are harder to hear, as are sounds like p, k, f, h, t, s and sh. We often get frustrated at loud bars when watching a football game or at noisy restaurants — imagine not being able to understand and respond to the server when they ask you, “How should we prepare your burger?”

4. Do they laugh at the wrong time and/or inappropriately?

If you notice your loved one laughing at your jokes more frequently, it may not mean that you’ve hit your comedic stride. It could be that they want to feel engaged and are trying to take social cues from those around without being able to hear what’s going on.

5. Do they say yes or no at the wrong time?

Hearing an inflection in someone’s tone generally means that there’s a question in the conversation; however, that’s not always the case. Watch for this when asking your loved one rhetorical questions — don’t just assume they misunderstood you.

6. Do they turn up the volume on the television, radio, and other devices?

This sign is pretty self-explanatory: If your family member or friend can’t hear well, they are going to make it so that they can. Also watch for closed captioning being used on televisions.

7. Are they becoming less engaged in social situations or even just family situations?

It can be difficult to admit to hearing loss, and at times, the situation is avoided altogether — at all costs. Sounds coming in differently and with less clarity can lead to social anxiety.

8. Do they blame outside noise or others people for a misunderstanding in the conversation or an out-of-place response?

Rather than admit there’s a problem, those affected tend to want to act like there isn’t an issue.

9. Keep an eye out for poor schoolwork or inattention.

While increasing age is often associated with hearing loss, signs of hearing loss in children could come across as irregular speech and language development, apparent inattention, or poor schoolwork.

10. And of course the telltale sign of “What?”

If you constantly need to repeat yourself or clarify what you’ve said, it is a good time for your loved one to get their hearing checked.

If more than a few of these hit home, it’s time to start the conversation about a solution. The first step is the easiest: finding your hearing professional. Hearing professionals are specially trained to perform a thorough hearing evaluation and create a proper treatment plan. Contacting us first will help you avoid spending time and money at a general practitioner who will more than likely send you to us!

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