Hearing Health Blog

Wife is annoyed by husband who appears to have selective hearing.

The only one thing that you asked for was for the garbage to be taken out. But, regrettably, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Crazy how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you requested from them. The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.

We tend to think of selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character flaw. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is implying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the actual culprit behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it might be the early stages of hearing loss.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if no one used that particular name. Selective hearing occurs when you can clearly hear information that’s helpful to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the bit about the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That sort of thing.

It’s very common for people to have selective hearing behavior. But this behavior is more common in men than women, according to some research.

It might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that people are socialized certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is most likely another major factor. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it might be a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Hearing loss can create gaps in communication

Communication will undoubtedly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s likely not that surprising.

But one notable sign of hearing loss is communication issues.

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there won’t be very many apparent symptoms. Maybe you start turning the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing what people are saying. You most likely just assume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through most of your day-to-day life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly diminish because of this. Up to the time you’re having problems following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

The people close to you will probably be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common annoyance (even more aggravating when you already feel like nobody is listening to you). But as it turns out more and more often, irritation might turn to worry.

And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.

Your partner’s concern is significant and it’s essential for you to recognize that. Have an open discussion with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply annoyed with you.

Other early signs of hearing loss

You should be aware of some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Some of those signs include:

  • Hearing in crowds is difficult
  • Needing to ask people to talk louder or slow down
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Consonants are hard to distinguish
  • Cranking the volume up on your devices

You should contact us for a hearing test if you experience any of these symptoms.

Always safeguard your hearing

It’s essential that you take steps to protect your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be certain that you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough spots that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for most selective hearing situations in your life. But when you (or someone around you) notices your selective hearing getting worse, you may want to take that as a sign that it’s time to have your hearing checked.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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