The last time you ate dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a difficult time getting along. The issue was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Jay’s new cat. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally ignore the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It isn’t generally advisable to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But there are some early warning signs you should keep your eye on. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Some of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But you may be dealing with some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment might include:
- Someone makes you aware that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at full volume. In most cases, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: These days, due to texting, we use the phone much less than we used to. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily associated with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- You notice that certain sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
- When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
- You notice it’s tough to comprehend particular words. This warning sign frequently appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
- High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell frequently go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is typically most recognizable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself continually asking people to talk louder, repeat what they said, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. Often, you may not even recognize how often this is happening and you may miss this warning sign.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test
You still can’t be certain whether you’re confronting hearing loss even if you are encountering some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing exam to know for sure.
You could very well be experiencing some level of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Then it will become more obvious what has to be done about it.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.