The last time you had dinner with family, you were quite frustrated. 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 a thing. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new career. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely dismiss the idea that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But there are some early red flags you should watch for. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss may include:
- You notice it’s hard to understand particular words. This red flag usually shows up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. 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.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: Texting is popular nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps you keep cranking the volume up on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, 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 a difficult time hearing conversations in a busy or noisy location. This is frequently an early indication of hearing loss.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are experiencing this problem, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably needed.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
Next up: Take a test
You might 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.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. And if any impairment exists, a hearing examination will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we discover 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.