Your last family dinner was disheartening. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was boisterous, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Todd’s new puppy. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally ignore the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It’s not typically advisable to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. 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 tested by a hearing professional.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But if you should find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be dealing with some amount of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Perhaps you find your teapot has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Particular frequencies (often high pitched) will typically be the first to go with early hearing loss.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile device. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you recognize the escalating volumes.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds too: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is probably in order.
- You find it’s tough to comprehend certain words. This red flag often pops up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- You keep asking people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they talk, this is particularly true. Often, you might not even notice how frequently this is happening and you may miss this red flag.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to comprehend: Today, because of texting, we use the phone a lot less than we used to. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having trouble hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
- You find that some sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If distinct sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
Next Up: Take a Examination
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You could very well be going through some level of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be established with a hearing examination. Then it will become more clear what has to be done about it.
This means your next family gathering can be a lot more enjoyable.