The last time you ate dinner with your family was a difficult experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely ignore the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags surface, it’s worth making an appointment to get examined by a hearing specialist.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Several of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most prevalent early signs of bad hearing may include:
Some words seem harder to hear than others. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having trouble comprehending the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat what they said, or slow down when they talk, this is especially true. Often, you might not even notice how frequently this is occurring and you may miss this red flag.
Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at full volume. In most cases, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you find your teapot has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Early hearing loss is usually most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If specific sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always connected with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s typically an early sign of trouble with hearing.
Next Up: Get a Exam
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.
You could very well be going through some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing test will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to get the proper treatment.
This means your next family get together can be a great deal more enjoyable.