Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally dismiss the idea that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be especially challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is evident. 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 loss may include:
- It’s suddenly very challenging to make out phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting pretty often. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Maybe the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, 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 busy noisy place, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. This early sign of hearing loss may be happening without you even noticing.
- You discover it’s difficult to make out particular words. This red flag frequently pops up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health issues.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Get a hearing test
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 assessment.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the correct treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.