Your last family dinner was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new career. And that was really annoying. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be especially difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But there are some early red flags you should watch for. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. But you might be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss could include:
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: 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 find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts particular frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- You hear ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). If you have ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also point to other health issues.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a crowded or noisy setting. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Maybe you keep cranking up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, be aware 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 symptom.
- You discover it’s difficult to make out certain words. This symptom occurs when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
Get a hearing assessment
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the right treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.