Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. 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 totally dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough of these warning signs pop up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing loss
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you may be experiencing hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss may include:
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing impairment may be happening without you even noticing.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most obvious in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard 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 may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You notice it’s hard to understand particular words. This red flag frequently shows up because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, keep in mind 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.
Get a hearing assessment
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing evaluation will be able to tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the correct treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.