The last time you ate dinner with family, you were pretty aggravated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. And that was really irritating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely dismiss the idea that maybe your hearing is starting to fail.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss could include:
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably needed.
- You notice it’s difficult to understand particular words. This warning sign frequently shows up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: You might not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting pretty often. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing loss could be happening without you even noticing.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Or maybe, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are having this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
Next up: Take a test
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 going bad: get a hearing test.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing evaluation will be able to tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the best treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.