Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud 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 frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It can be especially challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But there are some early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
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 this list, you just could be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is normally most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You hear ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- 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 you are having this problem, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- When you’re in a busy loud place, you have trouble following conversations. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing impairment may be happening without you even noticing.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This symptom takes place when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
Get a hearing exam
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing test.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal 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.