Spouses, family members and close friends usually notice the changes first. I have had patients tell me they are hearing fine even though they struggle to hear conversation in restaurants or don't hear the birds outside. “I'm fine as long as only one person talks at a time”, “I hear my husband talking, but he seems to mumble more now”, “I can't understand why I hear the furnace going but not voices on the television”. These are all very common statements. Many times these statements indicate some degree of hearing loss.
But because these changes have occurred gradually, the person has adapted to hearing less and less. I often say that if we could turn back the clock to a time when someone was hearing normally and then give them their hearing loss all at one time, they would be surprised to see how much they are missing.
If there is any question about your hearing, a hearing evaluation is an easy way to determine what you are missing. Hearing loss does not always mean needing hearing aids. Hearing loss can be caused by many factors including wax in the ears, problems in the transmission of the sound to the hearing nerve, and in many cases learning some communication strategies to assist you in certain situations. This information is usually discussed during your hearing evaluation.