Your last family dinner was disheartening. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. And that was really annoying. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it may be a problem with your hearing.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But there are some early red flags you should watch for. When enough of these warning signs pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. But you might be dealing with hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing loss could include:
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing loss could be happening without you even noticing.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: Texting is popular these days, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- Somebody notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe you keep cranking up the volume on your cell phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
- When you’re in a busy noisy setting, you have trouble following conversations. This is frequently an early indication of hearing loss.
- You notice it’s hard to make out particular words. This red flag often shows up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that may be an early hearing loss indicator.
Next up: Take a exam
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we determine the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more fun.