The last time you ate dinner with family, you were rather frustrated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. It was difficult. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you have to admit that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly challenging to do. But there are some early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just could be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing loss may be occurring without you even noticing.
- You notice that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: Texting is popular these days, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- When you’re in a busy loud place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss generally affects specific frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health issues.
- You notice it’s difficult to understand particular words. This warning sign often shows up because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
Next up: Take a test
No matter how many of these early red flags you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing test.
You may be dealing with hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing examination will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we discover the level of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more enjoyable.