The last time you had dinner with your family was a hard experience. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always some of that). The problem was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any of your family members. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing could be starting to wane.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get tested by a hearing specialist.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But if you happen to find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be going through some degree of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to comprehend phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If particular sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- You keep asking people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, repeat what they said, or talk louder. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Perhaps you find your teapot has been whistling for five minutes and you didn’t hear it. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Early hearing loss is typically most recognizable in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. In the “family dinner” example above, this exact thing happened and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
- You notice it’s difficult to comprehend particular words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
Next Up: Get a Examination
You still can’t be certain whether you’re confronting hearing loss even if you are encountering some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing examination to know for sure.
Broadly speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. Then it will become more evident what needs to be done about it.
This means your next family get together can be a lot more enjoyable.