Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. It was difficult. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to fail.
It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly challenging to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing loss could include:
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that may be an early hearing loss symptom.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. You might not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss generally affects particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. If you have ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also point to other health issues.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: Texting is popular 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.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- You notice it’s hard to understand particular words. This symptom happens when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. 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.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
Next up: Take a exam
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing exam.
You may be dealing with hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing evaluation will be able to tell you how bad it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the correct treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more enjoyable.