The last time you ate dinner with family, you were rather aggravated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. 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 difficult. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you have to admit that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly difficult to do. But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most 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 might be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You notice it’s difficult to understand certain words. This warning sign often 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.
- You notice ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also point to other health issues.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, 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.
- 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 you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. You might not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- When you’re in a crowded loud setting, you have difficulty following conversations. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
Get a hearing assessment
No matter how many of these early red flags you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the correct treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more enjoyable.