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 anything. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. It was difficult. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But there are some early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on this list, you just may be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). If you have ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing loss, can also point to other health problems.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking numerous people to talk more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment may be happening without you even noticing.
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are experiencing this issue, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- You notice it’s hard to make out particular words. This red flag frequently shows up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming more difficult to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts specific frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- 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 may not take as many phone calls as you once did. But you might be encountering 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 know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing test.
You may be dealing with hearing loss if you are noticing 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. Once we determine the level 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 gathering.