The last time you had dinner with family, you were quite aggravated. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the cause of the frustration was simple: it was loud, 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 to blame. But you have to acknowledge that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). 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.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is noticeable. But you could be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment could include:
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are experiencing this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- You have a hard time following conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss usually affects specific frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- You notice it’s difficult to understand particular words. This red flag usually pops up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably needed.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing loss could be occurring without you even noticing.
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- It’s suddenly very hard to make out phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting fairly often. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
Get a hearing test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing examination will be able to tell you how far gone it is. Once we identify 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.