"What did you say?"
"Are you talking to me?"
"I have no idea what you just said."
These are all sentences you'll hear me say over the course of a day.
I blame the background noise.
I blame my daughter's mumbling.
I blame the fact that my husband is talking "at" me as I work at my computer.
I blame the fact that my son is talking to me from two rooms away.
But the reality is that I'm the common denominator. I'm the one that is constantly looking at people with my head on the side with questioning facial expressions.
According to the Australian Network on Disability, one in six Australians live with some form of hearing loss.
Mine has happened over the last few years. It started quite some time back when I started getting this swooshing sound in my ears. Like a pulse. It's as though I can hear my own heartbeat in my ears.It usually happens of a night time when I lay down to watch TV or sometimes after I've been on the phone to someone I've had to talk loudly to (eg my grandmother). They say it could be tinnitus or anxiety or high blood pressure or abnormal blood flow or even a thyroid issue.
The reality is it could also be another fibromyalgia symptom as many fibro sufferers experience it.
Whatever the cause, it adds to my inability to hear.
More recently I have found that I naturally tune into background noise rather than foreground noise. Which means if I am in the lounge room watching TV and someone is in the kitchen banging around with pots and pans, I cannot hear the TV as my hearing tunes into the kitchen noise.
Is this simply a "what the hell are they doing in there?" kind of reaction, or is the background noise actually overriding the foreground noise?
According to Hear-it.org the ears of people with hearing loss work differently in background noise than the ears of people with normal hearing. Background noise significantly affects people with hearing loss.
So I did an online hearing test to see just how bad my hearing is and scored 64% with the advice that my "speech understanding was fine". Shit. Low score but I guess I still passed.
I don't need hearing aids (yet) but there is no doubt my ears aren't quite as effective as they used to be. Another symptom of this ageing malarkey.
Mind you, most information I have read refers to age-related hearing loss as something that happens to people over 65. That's still 20 years away! (Give or take a year or two.) Why is this happening to me now?
Or is it actually happening at all?
According to healthline.com there is no cure for age-related hearing loss. You simply have to work with it by wearing hearing aids, devices such as telephone amplifiers or take lessons in sign language or lip reading. What?! (To be honest I've already taken to lip reading when it comes to my daughter ... )
Other causes for hearing loss (also associated with age) can be diabetes, poor circulation, exposure to loud noises, use of certain medications, family history and smoking.
I guess it's just one of those things I'll have to add to the ever growing list of things to chat to the doctor about.
Ageing can be a bugger. These things are going to happen whether we like it or not so there's no point ignoring it or hoping it will magically go away. Taking control of the situation by understanding it and managing it is the trick to ageing positively.
How's your hearing?
Do you have a history of hearing loss in your family?
How often do you say "huh"?
Do you have to lip read with the mumbling teens in your house?
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