Bananas don’t taste like they once did. That’s because today’s banana farmers grow a really different type of banana then they did in the past. Today’s banana can develop successfully in a wide variety of climates, are more resilient, and can sprout faster. And they taste quite different. So why haven’t you detected the great banana swap? Well, the change wasn’t a fast one. You never noticed the gradual switch.
The same thing can happen with your ears and hearing loss. It’s not like suddenly your hearing is entirely gone. In most cases of hearing loss, it goes unnoticed because it advances so slowly.
That’s regrettable because early treatment can help preserve your hearing. You can take steps to protect your hearing if you’re aware that it’s in danger. So it’s a good plan to keep an eye out for these seven signs of waning hearing.
7 signs you should get a hearing test
Hearing loss isn’t always well understood as it develops slowly over time. It isn’t as if you’ll go to a loud rock concert and the next day find yourself entirely unable to hear. Damage to your hearing (from that rock concert and other loud noises) increases over time. The earlier you treat your hearing loss, the better off you’ll be. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to an increased risk of issues including dementia, social isolation, and depression, so it isn’t something you should mess around with.
These seven signs are what you should be watching out for. The only way to know for certain is to get a hearing exam, but these signs may encourage you to make an appointment earlier than you otherwise would have.
Sign #1: You’re constantly cranking up the volume
Do you find yourself frequently reaching for the volume controls? Sure, possibly it’s just that all of your favorite actors and artists have started mumbling, or that the audio mixing on TV shows is dramatically different than it used to be. But it’s also possible (if not likely) that you’re hearing is slowly going, and that you’re increasing the volume of your favorite TV show or music to compensate.
This is particularly the situation if your family has also regularly been telling you that the TV is too loud. They can often recognize hearing trouble in you sooner than you can.
Sign #2: You missed the doorbell (or a phone call)
If you’re continually missing some everyday sounds, that could be a sign of trouble with your ears. A few of the most ordinary sounds you might miss include:
- Somebody knocking on your door or ringing your doorbell: You thought your friend unexpectedly walked into your house but actually missed his knocks.
- Alarms and timers: Did you sleep through your alarm clock? Did the dinner get overcooked? It may not be your alarm’s fault.
- Your phone: Text messages coming to you but you missed them? No one makes phone calls anymore, so you’re more likely to miss a text message than a phone call.
If your family and friends have mentioned that they’re kind of scared of driving with you because you miss so many common sounds (from honking horns to the beeping of a truck in reverse), that could be an indication that it’s time for a hearing assessment.
Sign #3: You keep needing people to repeat what they said
Are your most frequently used words “what?” or “pardon?”? It’s likely that it’s a problem with your hearing that’s causing you to need people to repeat themselves when they’re talking with you. This is particularly relevant if people do repeat themselves and you still don’t hear what they’re saying. Seems like a hearing test is in order.
Sign #4: It sounds like everyone’s always mumbling
You could also call this sign #3-A, because they go pretty well together. If it sounds as if everyone around you is continuously mumbling or talking under their breath, the reality is… well, they likely aren’t. It’s stressful to always feel like people are mumbling about you, so it might be a relief to find out they’re actually not. The reality is that you’re simply not hearing them because of your loss of hearing.
If you’re trying to talk to someone in a noisy setting or with someone who has a high pitched voice this can be particularly relevant.
Sign #5: Loved ones keep suggesting you get your hearing checked
You most likely have a pretty close relationship with your family and friends. And some of them most likely have healthy hearing. If your family members (especially younger) are informing you that something is wrong with your hearing, it’s a smart plan to listen to them (no pun intended).
We get that it’s all too easy to sort of rationalize this advice away. Possibly you tell yourself it was just a bad day or whatever. But you could give your hearing an advantage by taking their advice.
Sign #6: Your ears are ringing or you’re experiencing balance issues
When you’re experiencing ringing in your ears, you’re dealing with a condition known as tinnitus. It’s not at all unusual. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, your tinnitus can become severe for a couple of reasons:
- Damage can trigger both: Both hearing loss and tinnitus can be brought on by damage. So you’re more likely to develop tinnitus and hearing loss the more damaged your hearing is.
- Tinnitus is more obvious when you have hearing loss: In your normal day-to-day life, tinnitus can be overwhelmed by the everyday noises you experience. But as hearing loss makes those background sounds quieter, tinnitus symptoms come to the front.
Either way, if you’re noticing loud ringing, or even dizziness and vertigo, it could be an indication that something is going on in your ears. This means it’s time to come see us for a hearing test.
Sign #7: You feel tired after social engagement
Maybe you’ve always been an introvert at heart, and that’s why social situations have become completely exhausting. Or it may be possible that you’re not hearing as clearly as you once did.
When you leave a restaurant or a social affair feeling utterly exhausted, your hearing (or lack thereof) might be the reason why. Your brain is attempting to fill in the holes that you can’t hear. This is fatiguing (no matter how good your brain is), especially over the long run. So you may experience even more exhaustion when you’re in an especially noisy setting.
The first step is calling us for an appointment
The truth is that we all encounter some hearing damage in our lifetimes. Exactly how much (and how frequently you were wearing hearing protection) may have a big affect on when you develop hearing loss, or if you develop hearing loss in the first place.
So it might be an indication that the banana is changing if you experience any of these signs. Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it: come in and get tested! You’ll be able to get treatment as soon as you get diagnosed.