Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally dismiss the idea that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing loss
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you may be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment may include:
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You might not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting pretty often. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing loss, can also indicate other health issues.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, keep in mind that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that may be an early hearing loss symptom.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking numerous people to talk more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. You might not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is often an early sign of hearing loss.
- Certain words are hard to understand. This red flag usually appears because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts specific frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
Next up: Take a test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing exam.
You might be dealing with hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing examination will be able to identify how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the best treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.