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American Annals of the Deaf

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Living with Hearing Loss

Marcia B. Dugan

Written in collaboration with Self Help for Hard of Hearing People

Chapter One: Hearing Loss - The Early Signs

It may be difficult to remember the first time you realized that you couldnít hear as well as you once did. Most hearing loss occurs gradually, so you may not have noticed that it was happening. You could hear some people; you had difficulty hearing others. You could hear in some situations; in other situations, you had a problem hearing. These mixed signals are confusing and often prevent people from acknowledging a hearing loss. For this reason, a friend or family member is often the first person to notice that someone is losing their hearing. Below are some of the warning signs of early hearing loss:

  • You hear but cannot understand.
  • You ask people to repeat what they said or respond inappropriately to questions.
  • You have difficulty understanding in restaurants, the car, and other noisy environments where several people are talking at the same time.
  • You have difficulty hearing at the movies or in the theater.
  • You have difficulty understanding in group or social situations.
  • You canít understand your grandchildren or other young children.
  • You hear better in one ear than in the other when you are on the telephone.
  • You have dizziness, pain, or ringing in your ears.
  • You turn the television and radio volume louder than other people like.
  • You have difficulty understanding speech if you canít see the speakerís face.
  • You turn your head to one side to hear what is said.

In addition to observing the above signs, your family may notice the following:

  • You have a blank expression on your face.
  • You speak too loudly or too softly.
  • You canít understand what is being said when someone speaks to you from another room.
  • You avoid social situations.
  • You tune out or fall asleep at group gatherings.

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