The last time you had dinner with your family was a hard experience. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). The issue was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any members of your family. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally discount the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs surface, it’s most likely time to get your hearing examined.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just might be going through some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell frequently go undetected for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is normally most noticeable in specific (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You have a tough time following interactions in a noisy or crowded place. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing happened and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to talk louder, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is especially true. Often, you may not even recognize how often this is occurring and you might miss this red flag.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other noises, is technically named tinnitus. Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is most likely in order.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be facing another red flag for your hearing.
- You find it’s difficult to understand certain words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs linked to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you recognize the escalating volumes.
Next Up: Get a Exam
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, 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 impairment. What level of hearing loss you may be dealing with can only be established with a hearing examination. Then it will become more evident what needs to be done about it.
This will make your next family get together a lot smoother and more fun.