Profound deafness is easy to recognize, since people will notice such a large change in hearing. Milder hearing loss may not be noticed right away, since it often comes on gradually and people "get used to it." If you notice that you need to turn the volume up on the radio or television, have difficulty understanding conversations, or need to ask people to repeat what they say, you may have hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss often starts at the high frequencies, meaning that people may have trouble understanding women and children (whose voices are higher pitched) or telling the difference between similar sounds such as "th" and "sh." Many people are alerted by friends or relatives. The problem is initially most apparent in noisy environments.
All infants and children should be screened for hearing loss, as early diagnosis and intervention can have a dramatic impact on the child's future development and educational needs. Signs of deafness in young children include not responding to noises, responding slowly, or not learning to speak by the expected age. A deaf child may also lag behind in developing motor skills and coordination, or in learning how to balance, crawl, or walk. The biggest obstacles to early diagnosis are typically a delay in a referral to a specialist (usually when the signs of hearing loss are not recognized) or a lack of access to appropriate infant hearing screening.
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