Chronicle of a deaf audiologist

Is everyone mumbling? You might have hearing loss

It can be frustrating for a significant other to be accused of mumbling. Hearing loss can make common, everyday words difficult to recognize. Most people who have permanent, age related, or noise induced hearing loss usually have a sloping hearing loss, which means they don’t hear the high pitch sounds clearly. Consonant sounds are high pitched, and are relatively soft compared to vowels.

Because consonant sounds are hard to hear, you might hear:

She sells sea shells down by the sea shore


Ee ell ee ell ow aye ee ore.

This is a far-fetched example, but people will sound as though they are speaking a string of vowels if you have a hard time hearing high pitches. Hence the observation that others are mumbling. What to do? Get your hearing tested. It’s good to have the information and may lessen your significant other’s frustration. Hearing aids can help to amplify high pitches; if you are not ready for hearing aids yet, there are other steps you can take (lipreading instruction, auditory training, communication strategies).


  • Photo credit:  © Alan Fortune

    Sandra Vandenhoff

    Dr. Sandra Vandenhoff is an audiologist with hearing loss, founder of HEARa, Hearing Rehabilitation teacher, and Canadian author, who does not remember saying on her first day of wearing hearing aids: "Mom, I can hear my shoelaces!"

Scroll to Top