The last time you ate dinner with your family was a hard experience. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Jay’s new puppy. It was irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing might be starting to wane.
It isn’t generally recommended to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs surface, it’s probably time to get your hearing checked.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Several of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be going through some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing impairment might include:
- Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at max volume. In most cases, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing occurred and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud especially if it lasts for an extended period of time.
- High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in specific (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This red flag often appears because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- You keep asking people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to talk louder, repeat themselves, or slow down when they talk, this is especially true. You might not even notice you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You experience some ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily associated with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
Next Up: Take a Exam
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to recognize, with certainty, whether your hearing is fading: get a hearing test.
You may very well be going through some level of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the correct treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be a great deal more enjoyable.