Your last family dinner was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, 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 discount the idea that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely challenging to do. But there are some early red flags you should watch for. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth scheduling 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 could be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment could include:
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If specific sounds become oppressively loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that may be an early hearing loss indicator.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably needed.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You may 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 trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. 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 may be occurring without you even noticing.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps you keep cranking up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Normally, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You notice it’s hard to make out particular words. This warning sign usually pops up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy place, you have trouble following conversations. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss generally impacts specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
Get a hearing exam
No matter how many of these early red flags you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing examination will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we discover the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.