ADHD and hearing problems?

Two doctors in as many weeks have tested my hearing, which is apparently normal.

“It’s not that I can’t hear,” I tell them. I can’t distinguish sounds. Why is it that I can’t understand what someone is saying to me if there’s background noise?

Now true, all people will have trouble with background noise if it’s loud enough. However, if I want to watch a movie with someone else, I have to turn on the closed captioning. If the person I’m with starts talking during the movie, I’ll still be able to HEAR the movie but not understand the words being said. (Or I’ll hear the movie and not understand what the other person is saying.)

If the classroom is noisy and a classmate is trying to tell me something, I’ll hear their voice, but I can’t make out the words they’re saying unless I get right up on them. At school I have to sit in the front row if I want to know what the professor is saying.

If I’m doing the dishes and the water’s running and Mr. Carmichael starts talking to me (three feet away), I won’t know what he’s saying until I turn the water off. Before I turn the water off, I’ll just hear his voice but not understand the words.

If I turn the TV up to a volume that’s comfortable for me, Mr. and Abbie Jr. both complain it’s too loud.

I feel stupid, having gone to two doctors who have told me there’s nothing wrong. They’ve said in all likelihood it’s not an ear thing, it’s a brain thing. Apparently some people with ADHD just can’t filter noise like normal people.

I’ve been living with it for years, and I suppose I’ll continue to live with it but boy is it a pain in the butt.

The hearing test administrator told me today that it’s “normal” to not be able to hear over background noise, but it’s not like the background noise that’s tripping me up is at Ozzy concert levels. Just normal everyday noises. Nobody else I know (friends, family) asks people to repeat themselves as much as I have to.

Does anyone else out there with ADHD have the same problem?

I don’t have ADHD and don’t have the same intensity of the problem, but I do have it more than most people. I don’t think there’s anything to be done about it, unless you want to try biofeedback or something. Also I think there are hearing aids that help with voice vs. background problems, but I’m sure you don’t want that.

Abbie! You are describing me! Always asking people to repeat themselves because I hear them, but can’t make out the words. Can’t hear distinctly with water running. Do you talk loudly, too? I find my voice rises when the background level does but it doesn’t seem that anyone else’s does. Am I talking too loud?

I’m always asking NorwegianBlue to turn up the volume when we watch TV together and I usually have it too loud when he’s trying to get some sleep. He says it sounds like the TV is in our room. But if I turn it down, I can’t understand the dialog even though I can hear it and I’m sitting right in front of it.

It never occurred to me it could be related to ADHD. I thought I needed to get my ears cleaned out or get a hearing test. I haven’t done either yet. I’ve been putting it off. :o I’ve also not been formally evaluated for ADHD, but my son is treated for it, and I fit the profile like a glove.

Since you mentioned it, I looked it up and found some information about Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), which is a type of hearing deficit often associated with ADHD. It’s not that you can’t hear, it’s that you can’t process what you hear the way everyone else does. Most of the info I’ve been finding, though, is geared toward CAPD in children. There is special testing required to diagnose CAPD – a regular hearing test won’t show it.

One of the articles I read mentioned that medicinal ADHD treatment can minimize the effects of CAPD. Are you taking anything for ADHD? If not, you might want to consider it assuming you’ve been diagnosed. Not everyone needs (or wants) medication, but I’ve seen how much it can help. I’ve been told that the decision to medicate should be based on how much of a negative impact the disorder has on your work life and general happiness.

Just wanted to add: I feel your pain and I’m glad you started this thread. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone or crazy. Good luck to you! :slight_smile:

Yes! I often have to ask people to repeat things three or four times, and even then I might not totally understand what they’re saying. And there’s nothing wrong with my hearing, either.
I don’t have that problem as severely as you, Abbie, but I can relate. For example, I’ve learned that I have a very hard time paying attention to a book if I sit in the same room as someone watching a TV program. It might not even be a show I like, or care about, but I cannot stop paying attention to the TV, and the book at the same time.

On second thought, it looked like I was saying I experienced something completely different from what Abbie described. Perhaps it’s better to say that I cannot hear or understand what I’m hearing, if there are two sounds of equal volume around me. Does that make sense?

I can’t distinguish between the two, and it becomes garbled.

Guin, I hear you. I find I can’t read a book while the TV is on, either, no matter how uninterested I am in the TV.

And yes, Cinnamon Girl, I’m on medication. I’ve seen a few CAPD sites that describe me to a T; neither of the docs I saw said anything about it but then they didn’t seem too motivated to give it a name. Nothing else I’ve read about hearing loss describes me, though, so I imagine that’s what it is.

I’ve read that CAPD can look like ADHD, and that it also goes hand in hand with it.

I definitely had ADHD as a kid but wasn’t diagnosed until I was about 19, which looking back is when this whole hearing thing started with me. I don’t recall having problems with it in childhood but, let’s face it, childhood was a long time ago :slight_smile:

I’ve found that when I’m studying, background music helps-music is the one exception, because I tune it out, but it provides “white noise” that blocks out the other sounds. I don’t think I have CAPD, because mine is very mild.

And it’s not hearing problems, either, because sometimes, I’ll hear the tiniest, faintest noises (My cat having a hairball in the kitchen when I’m in the bedroom.)

But try and tell me something while there’s a tv on, or something, and I’m lost.

I was just talking about this with an older friend of mine whose entire family has ADD.

It’s apparently called hyper-hearing. I have it, too. I always have to have the subtitles on, hehe. If I have the window open, I have to turn the TV way up. Things like that.

Yup. That’s me.

I just sort of deal with it. Mine isn’t as bad as yours, but I always accepted it as just another facet of my interesting life. YMMV, and I recommend asking a doctor who really knows what s/he’s talking about, about your options.

I’m the same way. I usually look at people when they’re talking and I have a hard time hearing them over whatever other sounds there are. People find out pretty quickly that I can’t process a whisper when they’re trying to clandestinely talk to me at a meeting, etc., so I know I miss out socially at times.

I haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD, although my daughter has it and I’ve sometimes wondered if I have it too… It would explain why I’m so hyper! However, my family is not full of “neurotypicals”… OCD, ADHD, high IQ, artistic talent, and depression run rampant all over the place in the family tree. It woudn’t surprise me if I took a poll and half my relatives couldn’t hear properly when doing dishes either.