The last time you had dinner with family, you were pretty aggravated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you can’t completely dismiss the idea that perhaps your hearing is beginning to fail.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But there are some early red flags you should watch for. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing loss
Most 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 initial signs of hearing loss could include:
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You may not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting pretty often. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- When you’re in a busy noisy setting, you have trouble following conversations. This is often an early sign of hearing loss.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are having this problem, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You discover it’s hard to understand certain words. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
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.
Generally speaking, 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 degree of impairment, if any, exists. 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.