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 a thing over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new career. It was frustrating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you can’t completely discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It’s not usually recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly challenging to do. But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. 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:
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak slower, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment could be happening without you even noticing.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. 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 in order.
- You find 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 might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are experiencing this issue, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy setting, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- 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, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss generally affects particular frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- It’s suddenly very hard to make out phone calls: You might not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting fairly often. 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 confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You discover it’s difficult to understand particular words. This warning sign often appears because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
Next up: Take a test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing exam.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. And if any impairment exists, a hearing evaluation will be able to tell you how bad it is. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more enjoyable.