Mumblers are annoying at the best of times. There’s nothing worse than when you can’t hear what someone is saying, yet feel too embarrassed to ask them to speak up. Even worse, when you’ve got them to repeat something and still haven’t heard, so inevitably end up nodding along in agreement to spare further humiliation.
We’ve all been there at some point. Whether you’ve had a blocked ear, had water in your ear or are gradually losing your hearing – regardless of the reason – it’s not a nice situation to find yourself in.
Understandably the prevalence of hearing loss increases with age. As people grow older they increasingly misunderstand what is being said. Sometimes it can sound as though everyone is mumbling and not speaking clearly.
What is actually happening is we are losing our ability to hear high frequencies. Unfortunately sounds such as s, l, p, t and k all fall into this high frequency category, which accounts for 90 per cent of the intelligibility of speech.
This understanding helps to explain while you may still be able to hear, you are having trouble understanding what people are saying. This misunderstanding is only heightened when you cannot see the speaker’s face or don’t know what the topic is about.
Another side effect of hearing loss is the inability to filter speech from background noise. Nowadays loud environments are almost impossible to avoid, whether it’s crowds at sporting events and concerts, or music everywhere from bars and restaurants to shops and gyms.
It would be impossible to avoid loud environments altogether, however, here are some suggestions to improve the situation:
- Ensure you are as close to the source as possible. Sit in the front row where you can.
- Request that people slow down their speech. This will automatically mean they are speaking more clearly.
- When conversing with someone try not to be more than a metre away, to give you the best chance of hearing what they have to say. If they won’t come closer to you, be pro-active and move closer to them.
- Reduce the background noise as much as possible. Turn down the volume on radios and television or step outside a crowded room.
- When conversing in a crowded room, avoid standing in the middle of the room and opt for a spot on the outskirts or near a wall to eliminate as much noise from other conversations as possible.
Trying to understand people in a noisy world, and struggling to hear mumblers and whisperers, can lead to isolation. While many people choose to ignore their hearing loss, this is a dangerous move as it can also affect your job performance, social life and physical wellbeing.
If you are having difficulty understanding others in conversation, communicating on the telephone, experiencing pain, ring or buzzing in your ears or having to increase the volume of the radio or television in order to hear it, you may have hearing loss.
If you think you may be affected by hearing loss, visiting a clinic is the first step to accurately diagnosis hearing difficulty.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, then perhaps it’s time to make an appointment.