Your last family get-together was disheartening. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be especially challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- When you’re in a crowded loud setting, you have difficulty following conversations. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- You discover it’s hard to understand certain words. This symptom occurs when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment could be occurring without you even noticing.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to make out phone calls: You might not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting fairly often. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You notice ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably 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 you are having this problem, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most obvious in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Next up: Take a test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You might be dealing with hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to tell you how bad it is. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.