Your last family get together was disheartening. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Jay’s new cat. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing might be starting to go.
It’s not generally advisable to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But there are a few early warning signs you should keep your eye on. When enough of these red flags emerge, it’s worth making an appointment to get examined by a hearing professional.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But you might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself recognizing some of these signs.
Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing happened and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your teapot has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Early hearing loss is typically most noticeable in distinct (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You notice it’s hard to understand certain words. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: Nowadays, due to texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having trouble hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
- You experience some ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always connected with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. You may not even realize you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You could very well be experiencing some level of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. Then it will become more evident what has to be done about it.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.