The last time you had dinner with family, you were pretty frustrated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on this list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment could include:
- You discover it’s hard to make out certain words. This red flag usually appears because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Hearing loss usually impacts particular frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- It’s suddenly very hard to make out phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may 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.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If specific sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing impairment may be occurring without you even noticing.
- You have a hard time following conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
Get a hearing test
No matter how many of these early red flags you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we determine the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.