The last time you ate dinner with family, you were pretty aggravated. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the cause of the stress 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. And that was really irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely dismiss the idea that perhaps your hearing is beginning to fail.
It can be especially difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But there are some early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss could include:
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. You may or may not encounter 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 hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health issues.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most obvious in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Somebody notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Certain words are hard to understand. This red flag frequently appears because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You might not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting fairly often. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You have a hard time following conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early sign of trouble with hearing.
Get a hearing exam
No matter how many of these early red flags you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: 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 evaluation will be able to identify how bad it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the best treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.