Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. It was difficult. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to admit that it might be an issue with your hearing.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment may include:
- You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Specific words are difficult to understand. This warning sign frequently pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. 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 in order.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most obvious in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: Texting is popular nowadays, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- You notice that some sounds become oppressively 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 specific sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t go away in short order), that may be an early hearing loss indicator.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
Get a hearing test
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.
You may be dealing with hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.