Signs of Hearing Loss

What is Happening?

Maybe you know how it feels to be on the “sidelines” at social gatherings. It gets embarrassing to ask other to repeat. Or you watch TV and others complain it’s too loud and you end up not understanding.

‘There I was in the midst of the birthday party that my family had worked so hard to put together, yet I could hardly understand the conversations, jokes, or congratulations. All night long I felt like a ‘deer caught in the headlights’. I wanted to crawl into a corner and hide.’

Does this sound familiar? You can actually be listening harder than anyone else and the words still don’t make sense. You listen with your ears; you listen with your eyes, watching who is facing you when they talk; you listen cognitively, with your brain, trying to assemble words and sentences with parts missing. You’re left guessing. It’s stressful, and others can get upset as well. It’s just like playing “Wheel of Fortune” all day long, but with live conversation! Our brain is receiving incomplete words, with the vital parts missing. We could be in the midst of a sea of laughter and smiling faces and still feel alone.

But you’re not alone. Too many attest to the same dilemma. What has happened is an active, full life has worn down your auditory system. Our hearing is one of four functions in life that are very important to us on a daily basis. It is absolutely incredible that its significance is rarely understood and easily neglected. But why?

Try this simple, yet revealing, self-assessment hearing experiment

Pronounce the word “speech” slowly, out loud: sp – ee – ch. Note that sp & ch (consonant blends) are merely whispers. Don’t say spa or cha – just sp & ch. They have no power!

Now pronounce the ee. The vowel is strong; you can shout it. Vowels can have up to 90% of the power in many words, but it’s the weak, higher pitched consonants that have nearly 90% of the audibility (the clarity) of speech. 90%!

Therein lies the problem. The consonants are teeming with meaning, but because they’re so weak, with only 10% of the power, give or take, they’re constantly being smothered, masked, and shoved aside, by background noise and by others’ vowels. It is likely that you’ve experienced this in restaurants and other noisy environments.

A simple written illustration helps clarify this:

“Dear Mom and Dad, how are you? We miss you. Can’t wait to get home for Christmas”

Now use the same letter but remove all of the vowels.

“Dr Mm nd Dd, Hw r y? W mss y. Cn’t wt t gt hm fr Chrstms!”

A little strange no doubt, but not a big problem; you can still figure out what it’s saying.

But now take the same letter and remove the consonants: “ea o a a, o ae ou? e i ou. a ai o e o o ia!”

You haven’t a clue what it says. All meaning has entirely disappeared!

The point of this exercise is that when you miss the consonants, the meaning disappears. You find yourself asking, “Did he say speech or teach? Or was is preach?”

If this happens to you, you need expert help. Give us a call. It is out hearing that connects us, helping us engage with friends and family, linking lives, allowing burdens to be shared, stories, spun, and memories built.

At Kienholz Hearing & Audiology, we’ll perform a series of tests to determine which type of hearing loss you have and which treatments are best for you. Contact our offices in The Woodlands, or Tomball, Texas for a hearing test today.