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McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

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If you have hearing loss, you might imagine it would be obvious, right?

Well, that’s exactly the issue; most people presume it would. Unfortunately, although severe or sudden hearing loss is easy to identify, mild to moderate gradual hearing loss can be too subtle to notice. That’s the reason why, on average, people will wait more than five years from the beginning of symptoms to search for help.

Think of hearing loss as a slow leak in a tire. It’s challenging to detect the day-to-day changes, and it’s only when the tire goes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you choose to take action.

Unfortunately, while tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be partly recovered, but the sooner you deal with your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll get back.

So how can you recognize the symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Here are several of the hidden signs that suggest you should get a hearing exam.

1. Difficulties hearing particular sounds

Frequently people think that hearing loss affects all types of sounds. Therefore, if you can hear some sounds normally, you presume you can hear all sounds normally.

Don’t get caught into this manner of thinking. The reality is that hearing loss predominately impacts higher-frequency sounds. You may discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, as an example, because of the higher pitch of their voices.

This may possibly lead you to believe that the people you can’t hear are mumbling, when in reality, you have high-frequency hearing loss.

2. Relying on context to comprehend speech

Someone is speaking from behind you and you can’t comprehend what they’re saying unless you turn around. You have to rely on body language, and potentially lip reading, for supplementary information to fill in the blanks.

Speech consists of a wide range of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the higher frequencies and vowels representing the lower frequencies. The issue for those with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants convey the the majority of the meaning yet are the most challenging to hear.

If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is much like reading a sentence with missing letters. Most of the time, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may find yourself replying inappropriately or requesting people to repeat themselves regularly. You may also have difficulty hearing on the phone.

3. Difficulty hearing in loud settings

With mild hearing loss, you can normally decipher what others are saying, albeit with a lot of effort. Once background noise is introduced, however, the task often becomes overwhelming.

You might discover that it’s difficult to hear in group settings or in loud environments like restaurants or parties. The competing sounds and background noise are muffling your already compromised hearing, making it incredibly difficult to focus on any single source of sound.

4. Mental Fatigue

Last, you may notice that you’re more tired than normal after work or after engagement in group settings. For individuals with hearing loss, the continual fight to hear, combined with the effort to grasp incomplete sounds, can result in severe exhaustion, which is a non-obvious sign of hearing loss.


Hearing loss is progressive and ends up being more complicated to treat the longer you delay. If you experience any of these symptoms, even if they’re only mild, we strongly suggest arranging a hearing test. By taking action earlier, you can preserve your hearing and stay connected to your family and friends.