Your last family get-together was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. And that was really irritating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you can’t completely dismiss the idea that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It’s not usually recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely difficult to do. But you should keep your eye out for certain warnings. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. 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 degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment may include:
- You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy setting. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment may be occurring without you even noticing.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- Certain words are hard to understand. This warning sign frequently shows up because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
- Somebody notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Normally, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally affects specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
Get a hearing exam
No matter how many of these early red flags you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the correct treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.