Your last family dinner was discouraging. 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 noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any members of your family. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally dismiss 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 you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs surface, it’s most likely time to get your hearing tested.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Several of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be going through some degree of hearing loss.
Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in distinct (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily related to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
- It’s suddenly very hard to comprehend phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
- You have a hard time making out conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to talk louder, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. Sometimes, you might not even notice how often this is happening and you might miss this red flag.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
- You find it’s tough to comprehend certain words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.
You could very well be experiencing some level of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing examination will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better equipped to get the correct treatment.
This means your next family get together can be a great deal more enjoyable.