Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new job. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warnings. When enough of these warning signs pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on this list, you just could be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment could include:
- Specific words are difficult to understand. This warning sign often shows up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- When you’re in a crowded loud setting, you have trouble following conversations. This is frequently an early indication of hearing loss.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are having this problem, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Normally, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health issues.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk slower, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. You might not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may 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 may be experiencing another red flag for your 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 certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing test.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to identify how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the best treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.