Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It’s not generally suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely difficult to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing impairment
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on this list, you just might be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably needed.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally affects particular frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: Texting is popular nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- 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 you are having this issue, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Maybe the volume on your mobile 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 children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You notice it’s hard to understand particular words. This warning sign often shows up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. This early sign of hearing impairment may be happening without you even noticing.
- When you’re in a crowded loud setting, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early signal of trouble with hearing.
Get a hearing assessment
You might 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 test.
You might be dealing with 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 tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the right treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.