The last time you had dinner with family, you were pretty frustrated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new career. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are to blame. But you can’t completely discount the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be especially difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment.
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 might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing loss may include:
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. You might not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most obvious in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). If you have ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health issues.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are experiencing this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- When you’re in a busy noisy setting, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: Texting is popular these days, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This warning sign usually shows up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming more difficult to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe you keep cranking the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
Next up: Take a exam
No matter how many of these early red flags you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.
You might be dealing with hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing examination will be able to tell you how far gone it is. Once we determine 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 gathering.