Monday, Jan 22, 2018
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Are people mumbling or are you suffering hearing loss?

Does it sound like people are mumbling, speaking too quickly, or simply not speaking clearly enough? The symptom of others sounding like they are mumbling is one that is very common as we age. Research shows that the speed at which we understand and process conversational speech declines and slows significantly as we age. In a University of Maryland study of younger and older adults it was found that the ability to understand speech syllables between the two age groups showed remarkable differences. The older group’s ability to process speech, particularly the beginning and ending of words, was substantially delayed. This was true whether a hearing loss was present or not.

To determine if the person speaking to you is mumbling, or if hearing loss is adding to your difficulty in understanding speech as you get older, ask yourself the following questions:

• Do I hear but not always understand what is being said?

• Do I have to really concentrate on the speaker to understand what is being said?

• Am I the only one who seems to be having a problem following the conversation?

• Do others complain I have the TV up too loud?

• Do I experience the same problem understanding what is being said no matter which TV channel I watch?

• Is it more difficult to follow the conversation if more than one person is speaking?

• Does background noise make it nearly impossible to hear and understand what is being said?

• Does it seem like most people do not speak clearly?

Presbycusis is a kind of hearing loss related to aging. This kind of hearing loss normally affects the soft high frequency consonant sounds while the louder low frequency consonant sounds remain within the normal to near normal hearing range. The typical result is the person hears, but does not always understand what is being said.

When an older person has both a hearing loss due to aging, and a slowing in their ability to process certain words and syllables, conversational speech can become very challenging. Additionally, when other noises in the background are present, the capacity to understand what is being said is compounded even more.

If you are over the age of 50 and answered yes to one or more of the questions above, you may be suffering from a hearing loss. Having your hearing checked can go a long way to ensuring proper management of your hearing loss.

• For further information on any hearing-related disorder, please contact Dr. Deborah Nubirth, doctor of audiology, in New Providence at Comprehensive Family Medical Clinic, Poinciana Drive at 356-2276 or 677-6627 or 351-7902 in Grand Bahama; or email


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