Your last family dinner was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new career. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are the problem. But you have to admit that it may be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But there are some early red flags you should watch for. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on this list, you just could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
- Somebody notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This symptom takes place when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. 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 get lost.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: Texting is popular nowadays, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. 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 confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is normally most obvious in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this issue, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. This early sign of hearing loss could be occurring without you even noticing.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a busy or noisy location. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
Get a hearing test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. And if any impairment exists, a hearing evaluation will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we discover the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.