The last time you ate dinner with family, you were pretty aggravated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. 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 irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warnings. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on this list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment could include:
- You find that some sounds become unbearably 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 encountering its symptoms. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- Certain words are difficult to understand. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is normally most obvious in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). If you have ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health problems.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy place, you have trouble following conversations. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You might not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting pretty often. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing impairment could be occurring without you even noticing.
Next up: Take a test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the correct treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.