Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). The problem was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. It was frustrating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t totally dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It isn’t generally recommended to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But there are some early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags surface, it’s worth making an appointment to get examined by a hearing specialist.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Several 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.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- Someone makes you realize that you keep turning the volume up. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If distinct sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- You find it’s tough to comprehend particular words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
- When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s typically an early sign of hearing problems.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot sometimes go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Specific frequencies (frequently high pitched) will usually be the first to go with early hearing loss.
- You keep needing people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, repeat what they said, or speak up. Sometimes, you might not even recognize how frequently this is happening and you might miss this warning sign.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other noises, is technically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if your ears are ringing, a hearing test is most likely in order.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: These days, due to texting, we use the phone much less than we used to. But if you’re having difficulty comprehending 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.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with confidence, whether your hearing is fading: get a hearing test.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing examination will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. 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 enjoyable.