Do you ever find yourself in a conversation or watching television and think to yourself “are they mumbling, or is it my hearing?”
You may lean in closer during conversation or turn the TV up so that you can understand better. Sometimes this helps, but it seems that even with the volume a little louder, you are still having trouble.
You may turn to your significant other and ask “what did they say?”
This happens to everyone at some point whether they have a hearing loss or not. How frequently it happens may help you to determine whether it is your hearing, or is actually a person that doesn’t speak clearly.
7 Signs that it may be a hearing loss
- No one else in the room seems to be having the same problem
- It happens on multiple TV stations or when watching different shows
- People walk in the room and tell you the TV is too loud
- You find yourself having to concentrate really hard to understand what people are saying
- You think that most people mumble
- It’s getting worse as you get older
- You do fine understanding the person in one-on-one conversations or quiet rooms
4 Signs that the person is mumbling
- Others are having the same trouble understanding the person or TV program
- You can’t understand them even when they are facing you and the room is quiet
- It only happens with one person or one TV show/station
- You are below the age of 50
Often people explain that they have no problem hearing, but they notice a problem understanding. They may even describe it as muffled hearing.
It may be a certain person they have trouble with or in a certain environment (i.e. noisy environment), but the complaint is always the same, “I hear but I don’t understand. Everyone mumbles or talks low.”
The explanation for this complaint is a specific configuration of hearing loss, a high-frequency hearing loss.
High-frequency hearing loss means that the hearing impairment occurs in the high-pitched sounds (high frequencies). High-pitched speech sounds include the consonant sounds such as s, th, f, and sh. When you have normal or near normal hearing in the low pitches (low frequencies), you pick up most of the vowel and nasal sounds of speech, as well as most environmental sounds. This will give you the false perception that your hearing is normal.
With a high-frequency hearing loss, the volume may sound loud enough but the clarity is lacking. This is because those high-pitched consonant sounds that you can’t hear are what make speech sound clearer and sharper.
A high-frequency hearing loss can be diagnosed by a Hearing Healthcare Professional by performing an Audiogram (hearing evaluation). Once the degree of the hearing loss is determined, hearing aids may be prescribed.
High-frequency hearing loss is common with aging and noise-exposure. In addition to testing your hearing level during the hearing evaluation, your speech discrimination abilities will also be evaluated by presenting a list of words and having you repeat the word.
As we age, our ability to discriminate speech also declines. This may also be a contributing factor to why it sounds like everyone mumbles. Your ability to discriminate the sounds of speech may have also declined.
Unfortunately, hearing aids do not correct poor speech discrimination abilities. For this reason, it is important to have your hearing evaluated if you suspect a hearing loss so that proper management and rehabilitation options can be discussed.
While some people do in fact mumble, a hearing loss may be the real reason you keep saying “what?”.