The last time you ate dinner with family, you were quite frustrated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new dog. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you have to acknowledge that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But there are some early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most 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 may be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing loss may include:
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably 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 having this problem, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- You discover it’s hard to make out particular words. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is usually most obvious in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing loss, can also point to other health issues.
- When you’re in a busy loud place, you have trouble following conversations. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to make out phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak slower, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment could be happening without you even noticing.
Next up: Take a exam
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing exam.
You might be dealing with hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the level of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more fun.