Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new job. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you have to acknowledge that it may be a problem with your hearing.
It can be especially challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is evident. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on this list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment may include:
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Maybe the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- You have a hard time following conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally affects particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: Texting is popular these days, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak slower, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. This early sign of hearing loss could be occurring without you even noticing.
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This warning sign often appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are having this issue, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
Get a hearing test
No matter how many of these early red flags you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing exam.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing examination will be able to identify how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the best treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.