Your last family get-together was frustrating. 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 a thing. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. It was frustrating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you have to admit that it might be an issue with your hearing.
It’s not usually recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly challenging to do. But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
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.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment could include:
- 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 used to because you use texting fairly 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 confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- Specific words are difficult to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. 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 children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- Normal sounds seem 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 often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking numerous people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
Get a hearing assessment
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing exam.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we discover the level of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more fun.