Your last family get-together was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the cause of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new job. And that was really irritating. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are to blame. But you have to admit that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly difficult to do. But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But you might be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: 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 receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Normally, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is normally most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. If you have 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 impairment, can also indicate other health problems.
- You discover it’s hard to understand certain words. This warning sign usually pops up because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- 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 unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing impairment may be occurring without you even noticing.
- When you’re in a busy loud place, you have difficulty following conversations. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
Get a hearing test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: 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 impairment. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we discover 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.