The last time you ate dinner with your family was a difficult experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. It was irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags surface, it’s worth making an appointment to get examined by a hearing specialist.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Several of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But you might be going through some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- You have problems hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot frequently go undetected for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in distinct (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other noises, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is most likely in order.
- You keep asking people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or talk louder. You may not even notice you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- It’s suddenly very hard to comprehend phone calls: Nowadays, due to texting, we use the phone a lot less than we used to. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having trouble hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
- When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
- Certain words seem harder to hear than others. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
- Someone makes you aware that you keep turning the volume up. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
- You find that certain sounds become intolerably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may 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.
Next Up: Get a Test
You still can’t be certain whether you’re confronting hearing loss even if you are experiencing some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing test to know for sure.
You could very well be going through some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the right treatment.
This will make your next family get together a lot smoother and more enjoyable.