Your last family get-together was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new job. It was difficult. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you have to admit that it might be an issue with your hearing.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to contact us for a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you happen to see 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 most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You notice that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to make out phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing assessment is probably in order.
- You discover it’s hard to make out particular words. This warning sign usually appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- 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, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. 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 typically most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- When you’re in a crowded loud place, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- 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 particularly true. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
Next up: Take a exam
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing test.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. And if any impairment exists, a hearing examination will be able to identify how far gone it is. Once we discover the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.