The last time you ate dinner with your family was a hard experience. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). The issue was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Jay’s new cat. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing may be starting to go.
It isn’t typically advisable to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get examined by a hearing specialist.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Some of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be dealing with some amount of hearing loss.
Some of the most prevalent early signs of bad hearing might include:
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If particular sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to understand: These days, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we used to. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your teapot has been whistling for a while and you didn’t hear it. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most noticeable in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is most likely in order.
- When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- Certain words seem harder to hear than others. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- You keep needing people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they talk, this is especially true. You might not even recognize you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
Next Up: Take a Test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to recognize, with certainty, whether your hearing is fading: get your hearing tested.
You could very well be experiencing some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing test. And then you’ll be better equipped to get the best treatment.
This will make your next family get together a lot smoother and more enjoyable.