The last time you ate dinner with family, you were rather frustrated. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was difficult. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough of these warning signs pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing loss
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be experiencing hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- Certain words are hard to understand. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. 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.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this problem, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing loss may be occurring without you even noticing.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Next up: Take a test
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing test.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. And if any impairment exists, a hearing examination will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we determine the level 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.