Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. It was difficult. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you can’t totally dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It’s not usually recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But there are some early red flags you should watch for. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you might 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:
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are having this problem, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe you keep cranking the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Normally, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk slower, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You might not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting fairly often. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. If you have ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health problems.
- Specific words are difficult to understand. This warning sign usually shows up because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- When you’re in a crowded loud place, you have difficulty following conversations. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early signal of trouble with hearing.
Next up: Take a test
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the correct treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.