The last time you had dinner with family, you were quite frustrated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear anything over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new dog. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you have to acknowledge that it may be a problem with your hearing.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warnings. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are experiencing this problem, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably needed.
- 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 normally most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- It’s suddenly very hard to make out phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- You discover it’s hard to understand particular words. This warning sign frequently shows up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. 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 have a hard time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy setting. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
Next up: Take a test
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 exam.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. And if any impairment exists, a hearing examination will be able to tell you how bad it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the correct treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more fun.