The last time you had dinner with your family was a hard experience. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always some of that). The issue was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any members of your family. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing might be starting to go.
It isn’t generally recommended to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags surface, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get checked by a hearing professional.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Several of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself recognizing some of these signs.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
You keep asking people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to talk louder, repeat what they said, or slow down when they talk, this is especially true. Often, you may not even acknowledge how often this is happening and you may miss this warning sign.
You find it’s difficult to understand particular words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
You have problems hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Particular frequencies (frequently high pitched) will typically be the first to go with early hearing loss.
It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile device. Or maybe your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
You hear some ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always connected with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination
You still can’t be certain whether you’re confronting hearing loss even if you are encountering some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing test to know for sure.
Generally speaking, even one of these early warning signs could be an indication that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing evaluation. And then you’ll be better equipped to get the right treatment.
This will make your next family get together a lot easier and more enjoyable.