Your last family dinner was frustrating. 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 details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new dog. And that was really irritating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you have to admit that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing loss
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you might be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You notice ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably 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 encountering its symptoms. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that may be an early hearing loss indicator.
- When you’re in a crowded loud setting, you have difficulty following conversations. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss usually impacts specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep cranking the volume up on your mobile phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You discover it’s difficult to understand certain words. This red flag usually appears because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to make out phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting fairly often. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
Next up: Take a exam
No matter how many of these early red flags you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to tell you how far gone it is. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.