The last time you had dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a difficult time getting along. The issue was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Jay’s new puppy. The whole experience was extremely aggravating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs appear, it’s most likely time to get your hearing tested.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you happen to find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- You have a tough time making out conversations in a crowded or noisy place. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing happened and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
- You notice it’s difficult to comprehend particular words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- Someone makes you aware that you keep turning the volume up. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps your TV speakers are maxed out. In most cases, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily related to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to comprehend phone calls: These days, due to texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
- You have problems hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You keep needing people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, repeat what they said, or speak up. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
Next Up: Get a Examination
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.
Generally speaking, even one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. What level of hearing impairment you may be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing evaluation. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the right treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be a great deal more enjoyable.