Your last family get-together was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was frustrating. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are to blame. But you have to admit that it might be an issue with your hearing.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing loss
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment may include:
- You find that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If specific sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally affects specific frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand 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 if you’re having trouble 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.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy setting, you have trouble following conversations. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- You discover it’s difficult to understand certain words. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Maybe the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
Get a hearing test
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know 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. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we determine the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.