The last time you had dinner with family, you were rather aggravated. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new dog. And that was really irritating. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are to blame. But you have to admit that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But you might be experiencing hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds as well: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). If you have ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing impairment, can also point to other health issues.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing impairment could be happening without you even noticing.
- Certain words are difficult to understand. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You might not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting fairly often. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Hearing loss usually impacts specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Normally, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy setting, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early signal of trouble with hearing.
Get a hearing exam
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing exam.
You might be dealing with hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing evaluation will be able to identify how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the right treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more fun.