Your last family get-together was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new dog. It was difficult. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are the problem. But you can’t completely discount the idea that perhaps your hearing is starting to fail.
It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly difficult to do. But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth scheduling 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 may be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss could include:
- When you’re in a crowded loud place, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is frequently an early indication of hearing loss.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing assessment is probably in order.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep cranking up the volume on your cell phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing loss may be occurring without you even noticing.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Hearing loss usually affects particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- You find that some sounds become 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 you are having this issue, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- Specific words are difficult to understand. This red flag frequently pops up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
Next up: Take a exam
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing test.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.