Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Delving into the Nature of Selective Hearing

Princeton Otolaryngology Associates: Dr. Scott L. Kay | Hearing Loss Articles

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

The only one thing that you asked for was for the trash to be taken out. But, unfortunately, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of poor communication.

This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a kind of character defect. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of intentionally not listening. But selective hearing might actually be connected to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve probably had at least one or more scenarios in your life where somebody has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the phrase “selective hearing”. When you miss all the things you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the part about the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. That sort of thing.

As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. But this behavior is more common in men than women, according to some studies.

How people are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is likely another major factor. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a lot more difficult. You’re probably not surprised by that.

But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication problems are an indication of hearing loss.

Symptoms can be very difficult to notice when hearing loss is in the early phases. Your tv might get a little louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing conversations. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? But besides situations like that, you might never even observe how loud day-to-day sounds can be. This lets your hearing slowly (but surely) diminish. Up to the time you’re having trouble following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common irritation (even more irritating when you already feel like no one listens to you). But that aggravation often becomes concern when they recognize that hearing loss could be the actual culprit.

So, your partner might recommend you schedule a hearing test to find out if something is wrong.

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

Other early indications of hearing loss

If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it might be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. Some of those signs include:

  • Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Requesting that people speak slower and talk louder
  • People sound distant or muffled when they talk
  • Trouble hearing in crowds
  • Having a hard time distinguishing consonants

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

Wear ear protection

Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to noisy environments (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, which can smooth over many rough spots that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.

In most cases throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But you might want to take it as a signal that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you begin to notice your selective hearing getting worse.

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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