Your last family dinner was disheartening. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the loud 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 dog. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But you may be experiencing hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You hear ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as 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 frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing impairment could be occurring without you even noticing.
- Certain words are hard to understand. This red flag usually pops up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are having this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most obvious in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- 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 used to because you use texting pretty often. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a busy or noisy setting. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early indication of trouble with hearing.
Get a hearing test
No matter how many of these early red flags you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. And if any impairment exists, a hearing evaluation will be able to tell you how bad it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the best treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.