Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the cause of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was difficult. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are to blame. But you have to acknowledge that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be experiencing hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You hear ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also indicate other health issues.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This symptom occurs when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing impairment could be happening without you even noticing.
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Normally, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to make out phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
Get a hearing test
You may 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 assessment.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to tell you how bad it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the right treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more fun.