Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the problem 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 job. It was difficult. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely dismiss the idea that perhaps your hearing is beginning to fail.
It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely challenging to do. But there are some early red flags you should watch for. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing loss
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this problem, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- When you’re in a busy loud place, you have trouble following conversations. This is often an early sign of hearing loss.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Certain words are difficult to understand. This symptom occurs when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing loss could be occurring without you even noticing.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you once did. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing assessment is probably needed.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
Get a hearing exam
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 exam.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. And if any impairment exists, a hearing evaluation will be able to identify how bad it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the right treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.