Your last family dinner was discouraging. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always some of that). The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any members of your family. It was irritating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be very challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But there are some early warning signs you should keep your eye on. When enough of these red flags surface, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Some of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you should find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be going through some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of bad hearing may include:
You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to talk louder, repeat themselves, or slow down when they talk, this is especially true. Sometimes, you might not even acknowledge how often this is happening and you might miss this red flag.
High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Perhaps you find your teapot has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Early hearing loss is normally most noticeable in distinct (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Someone makes you aware that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you aware of the increasing volumes.
You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If particular sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to comprehend: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having trouble hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
You have a tough time following conversations in a noisy or crowded place. In the “family dinner” example above, this exact thing occurred and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- You notice it’s difficult to comprehend certain words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Exam
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is fading: get a hearing test.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better prepared to get the right treatment.
This will make your next family get together a lot smoother and more enjoyable.