The last time you ate dinner with family, you were quite aggravated. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new career. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are the problem. But you have to acknowledge that it might be an issue with your hearing.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to call us for a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Hearing loss usually impacts specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- You notice it’s difficult to understand particular words. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are having this problem, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
- Someone 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. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- When you’re in a busy noisy place, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- You notice ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. You might not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of hearing impairment.
Next up: Take a exam
You may 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 test.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we discover the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.