Your last family dinner was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear anything over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. And that was really irritating. 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’s not generally suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely challenging to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough of these warning signs pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But you may be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment may include:
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are having this issue, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to make out phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting fairly often. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking numerous people to talk more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- When you’re in a busy loud setting, you have trouble following conversations. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- Certain words are hard to understand. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Hearing loss generally impacts particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
Get a hearing assessment
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing exam.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing assessment will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we discover the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more fun.