Your last family dinner was disheartening. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Jay’s new puppy. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t completely ignore the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be very difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But there are a few early warning signs you should keep on your radar. If some of these warning signs develop, it’s most likely time to have your hearing tested.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you happen to find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing impairment may include:
- You keep asking people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, repeat what they said, or talk louder. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You notice some ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily connected with hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile device. Or perhaps your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. In the “family dinner” illustration above, this specific thing occurred and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
- High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot sometimes go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to comprehend: Nowadays, due to texting, we use the phone much less than we used to. But if you’re having trouble comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you may be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If particular sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- Some words seem harder to hear than others. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. 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 become conflated.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
Broadly speaking, even one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be established with a hearing examination. Then it will become more obvious what needs to be done about it.
This will make your next family get together a lot smoother and more fun.