The last time you ate dinner with family, you were quite aggravated. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the boisterous 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 room’s acoustics are the problem. But you can’t completely discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It’s not generally suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly challenging to do. But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You discover it’s hard to understand particular words. This symptom takes place when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- You have a hard time following conversations in a busy or noisy location. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: You might not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting fairly often. 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.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. 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.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, keep in mind that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also indicate other health issues.
Get a hearing assessment
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.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. And if any impairment exists, a hearing examination will be able to tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the correct treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.