The last time you had dinner with family, you were rather aggravated. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new dog. It was difficult. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely challenging to do. But you should keep your eye out for certain warnings. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You notice it’s hard to understand certain words. This symptom occurs when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also indicate other health problems.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing impairment may be occurring without you even noticing.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are having this problem, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
Get a hearing test
No matter how many of these early red flags you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, 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 loss. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the right treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.