woman shouting
woman shouting

Stop Mumbling, Already!

If you’ve felt the need to tell friends, family, or coworkers to “speak up” or “stop mumbling,” the problem might be due to something more than their pronunciation.

Your family may have said they think you’re losing your hearing—but are they right about that? After all, you may not think you are “old enough” to be experiencing real hearing loss. But perhaps you’re familiar with one of the following scenarios:
  • You’re having dinner with your family when one of your loved ones begins telling a story about their day. Suddenly, everyone around you breaks into laughter— and you’re left wondering when you missed the punchline!
  • You’re watching a new movie at the theater, and there’s an important line of dialogue that makes your friends gasp— but you don’t hear a single word.
  • Every week at church, you find yourself sitting one row closer to the front, as you struggle to keep up with what the minister is saying.
If you can see yourself in one of these scenarios (or one like them), you may be experiencing hearing loss.
But why do people misunderstand words as they grow older? And why does it sound like everyone around you is mumbling rather than speaking clearly? 
Read ahead to learn more about why this may be happening, and what you can do about it.

What hearing loss sounds like

The reason a perception of “mumbling” is one of the first signs of hearing loss is because of the way that hearing loss occurs. Here’s what that looks like:
  • Rather than every vocal tone waning at the same time, hearing loss often involves the higher-pitched sounds going away first. Many times, this is consonant sounds such as “s” “t” “l” and “p”.
  • Consonant sounds provide intelligibility to words. In the absence of consonant sounds, you’ll only hear the vowel sounds of words. As a result, you’ll hear the loudness of a word but not the intelligibility. Loudness without intelligibility usually sounds like mumbling.
  • For example, you may be listening to someone speak without seeing their face, and not know whether they said “stop,” “top”, “lot,” “pot”— or something else entirely.
So, the problem isn’t with other people mumbling, but your perception of sounds. But what can you do about it?

How to hear what people are saying

Whether you can reverse your hearing loss depends on which type of hearing loss you’re experiencing. The condition may be permanent in the event of sensorineural hearing loss, which is most often caused by:
  • Age
  • Sudden or chronic exposure to loud noises
  • Damage to your ears from an injury
Unfortunately, sensorineural hearing loss is permanent— but that doesn’t mean the symptoms have to be. Beltone can help you regain your hearing and start to hear what matters the most to you once again.
If you feel as if everyone around you is mumbling, it’s time to get your hearing checked. Don’t worry— a consultation with one of Beltone’s hearing care professionals is free and easy.
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