The last time you ate dinner with family, you were pretty frustrated. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the issue 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 cat or Sally’s new job. And that was really irritating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely dismiss the idea that perhaps your hearing is beginning to fail.
It’s not generally suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely challenging to do. But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you may 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 may include:
- You notice that some sounds become oppressively loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If particular sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that may be an early hearing loss symptom.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe you keep cranking up the volume on your cell phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to make out phone calls: Texting is popular these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy setting, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing assessment is probably in order.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing impairment could be occurring without you even noticing.
- Certain words are hard to understand. This red flag often appears because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
Next up: Take a test
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 diminishing: get a hearing exam.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing assessment will be able to tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the right treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.