Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely discount the idea that maybe your hearing is starting to fail.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- When you’re in a crowded loud setting, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: Texting is popular these days, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss usually impacts particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep cranking up the volume on your cell phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You notice ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also point to other health problems.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment may be happening without you even noticing.
- You notice it’s difficult to make out particular words. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, keep in mind that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are having this problem, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
Get a hearing exam
You might 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 assessment.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more fun.