Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the cause of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you have to acknowledge that it may be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you might be experiencing hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (especially if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Normally, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- You discover it’s difficult to understand certain words. This red flag frequently appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is typically most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- When you’re in a busy loud place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing loss may be happening without you even noticing.
- You hear ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
Get a hearing test
No matter how many of these early red flags you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing test.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we determine the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more enjoyable.