Your last family get-together was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you can’t completely dismiss the idea that perhaps your hearing is beginning to fail.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But if you happen to see your own experiences 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:
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: humming, buzzing, screeching, 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 assessment is probably in order.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You may not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting fairly often. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Hearing loss usually impacts particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps you keep cranking up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You notice it’s difficult to make out certain words. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this problem, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
Next up: Take a exam
No matter how many of these early red flags you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing examination will be able to identify how bad it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the best treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.