Your last family get-together was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. It was difficult. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely challenging to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing impairment
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 this list, you just could be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment may be occurring without you even noticing.
- Certain words are difficult to understand. This warning sign frequently shows up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably 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 specific sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health issues.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You might not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting fairly often. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (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 is getting louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Normally, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- When you’re in a busy noisy setting, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Get a hearing assessment
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we discover the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more fun.