The ears first become less sensitive to higher pitched sounds – e.g. children and female voices. This can make conversations difficult to follow and communication more difficult. This can have a negative impact on quality of life but is often missed because people think about hearing loss in terms of “loudness” and not “pitch.” This early stage of age-related hearing loss might wrongly be perceived as “slowing down with age”.
The ears then become less sensitive to quieter sounds, and people might turn-up the volume on the TV. This is the more stereotypical and identifiable sign of hearing loss – i.e. not hearing quieter sounds. However, at this stage people are likely to have difficulty with both loudness and pitch.
Unsupported hearing loss can increase the risk of social isolation, loneliness, depression and reduce quality of life.
It is important that reported hearing difficulties are assessed and not dismissed just because a person can hear a doctor (GP) in quiet room for example.