So for the past several years (or maybe forever, and I’ve started noticing it more in the past few years?), I have wondered if I was beginning to lose my hearing. The main problem for me is that whenever there is any background noise or distraction, I have a really hard time picking out the voice of any one person speaking (especially if there are other conversations going on in the same room at the same time). I feel like I have to ask people to repeat themselves quite often. I also have a family history of early hearing loss (not my parents, but other relatives), so I decided that getting my hearing checked would probably be a good idea.
The results of my hearing test showed that my hearing is actually pretty good. It’s definitely within “normal” range. So, on one hand, that is a huge relief and I’m very, very grateful, since 1) I like hearing things, and 2) I don’t have to deal with obtaining, paying for, and adjusting to hearing aids. But, on the other hand, I still have the same problem of not being able to hear as well as I would like to, especially in group settings where there is a lot of background noise. For years, I have been paying extra-close attention to the listening habits and behaviors of others in such situations so I can compare them with my own, and because of this, I know that I do have to work harder than most people in noisy social situations to be able to hear. I lean in more, I watch people’s lips more, I turn an ear toward a speaker’s mouth more, and I ask people to repeat themselves more often than other people around me seem to have to do in the same setting.
The audiologist suggested that, since I have normal hearing, it’s not so much a hearing issue for me as it is an auditory “sensory processing” issue, which (I guess) means that my brain just doesn’t really know how to deal with auditory input from various sources at the same time. It’s not that I can’t hear things, but rather that I am extra-sensitive to noise and hear too many things too well at the same time and have trouble mentally blocking one thing (or things) out in favor of another. One other thing that the doctor noted about my test results is that noise becomes uncomfortable for me at a lower sound level than for most people.
So, overall, I am glad I was tested, and I am happy that I’m not losing my hearing, but I am a little confused about where to go from here.