What are the signs of hearing loss? Take it from a nurse who knows

BrendaAt 55, Brenda Cox wasn’t going to let her fading ability to hear disrupt a lifelong career as a nurse.

“I’m not old enough to have hearing problems,” Brenda told herself a decade ago. “I wasn’t ready to retire.”

But although Brenda’s hearing continued to decline, it was prodding from her husband that eventually got her to seek treatment through audiologists at Ohio State. New hearing aids restored her hearing and allowed her to work 10 more productive years before officially retiring after 45 years as a nurse.

Brenda’s story is hardly unique – many central Ohioans face challenges every day with their hearing. Looking back now, Brenda realizes she definitely exhibited some of the telltale signs of hearing loss.

Signs like these:

1. You find telephone conversation increasingly difficult.

“Talking on the phone was so difficult because I really didn’t understand what people were saying, so I stayed away from talking on the phone,” Brenda says. “Cell phones were a little bit better because you can turn the volume up some, but then it got to where that didn’t help, either.”

2. You have trouble understanding all the words in a conversation.

“There are certain words that you think you heard correctly, but you didn’t. A ‘W’ might be an ‘R,’ and a ‘D’ might be an ‘E.’ Sometimes it made a big difference in what people were saying to you, and I didn’t realize that was part of hearing loss. I thought you just couldn’t hear people, not [fail to] interpret what they were saying.”

3. You slowly realize that you no longer hear normal, everyday sounds.

“On the way home from getting my hearing aids,” Brenda says, “I heard the sound of the tires on the road and the sound of the window going up and down. I think you become gradually used to not hearing those things, so you think they’re not there anymore.”

4. You have trouble hearing women and children.

“If people had lower voices or talked in lower tones, I could hear them,” Brenda says. “But the high pitches, like my grandkids, I was totally missing. They talk real fast or whisper things to grandma that they don’t want mom and dad to hear. I couldn’t hear those things. I noticed, too, that if they weren’t looking at me, I didn’t understand them.”

5. The family complains that you play the radio or TV too loudly.

“I used to love driving to work and listening to the news and music. I had to turn it up so loud that it was almost distorted. I got to the point where I wouldn’t bother to turn the radio on.”

6. You often ask people to repeat themselves.

“I wasn’t able to hear my patients when I was doing their assessments and asking them questions. I would ask them to repeat themselves if I didn’t have the answer. I would get closer and closer to them,” Brenda remembers. “And they probably thought, ‘Why does this nurse get so close to me and the others don’t?’ I’d have them repeat themselves until I had the right answer, and that wasn’t really fair to them.”

BrendaNowadays, Brenda is somewhat of an ambassador for those living with hearing loss.

“I have family and friends who I realize can’t hear,” Brenda says. “I will literally pull my hearing aids out and say, ‘You realize I have hearing aids, don’t you?’ And they’re like, ‘Really, we didn’t even notice them.’

“Then I say, ‘Let me tell you how they’re working and how they’ve changed life for me.’ And all of the sudden, they’ll start talking about it.”

We’re so happy that Brenda was able to recover hear hearing after looking for a doctor online and finding her way to Wexner Medical Center.

And if you find yourself, your children, or your parents experiencing any of the signs of hearing loss that she talks about, don’t be afraid to take action:

Call 614-366-3687 to schedule an appointment with an Ohio State audiologist today.

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