The last time you had dinner with family, you were rather aggravated. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. It was frustrating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you have to acknowledge that it may be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. But you might be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment may include:
- It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. 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 confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a busy or noisy setting. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- You notice it’s hard to make out certain words. This red flag frequently shows up because consonants are starting 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 get lost.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss generally impacts specific frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are having this problem, particularly if it lingers, 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 sounds as well: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing assessment is probably needed.
- 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, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
Next up: Take a exam
You may 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 test.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. 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 determine the correct treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.