Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. 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. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely discount the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely difficult to do. But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing loss
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on this list, you just may be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing assessment is probably needed.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: Texting is popular nowadays, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. 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 confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is typically most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Normal sounds seem 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, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is frequently an early indication of hearing loss.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- Certain words are hard to understand. This warning sign usually appears because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- 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 maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
Next up: Take a test
You might 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 assessment.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the right treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.