The last time you ate dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any of your family members. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely ignore the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But there are some early warning signs you should keep your eye on. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Some of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But if you should find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be experiencing some amount of hearing loss.
Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- You have problems hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Particular frequencies (frequently high pitched) will usually be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
- You notice that some sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If specific sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: Today, due to texting, we use the phone a lot less than we once did. But if you’re having problems comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be facing another red flag for your hearing.
- You have a tough time hearing interactions in a noisy or crowded place. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
- You find it’s hard to understand particular words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or maybe your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. In most cases, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically named tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always connected with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- You keep needing people to repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or talk louder. You might not even notice you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You may very well be experiencing some level of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing loss you may be dealing with can only be established with a hearing assessment. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the right treatment.
This means your next family get together can be a great deal more enjoyable.