Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the problem 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 a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was difficult. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warnings. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing loss
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. This early sign of hearing loss could be happening without you even noticing.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that may be an early hearing loss indicator.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a busy or noisy location. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably needed.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to make out phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Normally, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
Next up: Take a exam
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify 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.