The last time you ate dinner with family, you were rather aggravated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new career. It was frustrating. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are the problem. But you have to acknowledge that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just could be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss could include:
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). 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.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss usually impacts particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting pretty often. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- You find that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak slower, talk 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.
- Certain words are hard to understand. This symptom takes place when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. Usually, 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.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Normally, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
Get a hearing exam
You may 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 test.
You may be dealing with hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the correct treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.