The last time you ate dinner with your family was a difficult experience. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a 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 puppy. The whole experience was extremely aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing may be starting to wane.
It’s not typically recommended to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. But there are a few early warning signs you should keep on your radar. If some of these warning signs appear, it’s probably time to have your hearing tested.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be dealing with some degree of hearing loss.
Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or talk louder. Often, you might not even acknowledge how frequently this is happening and you may miss this red flag.
- High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Distinct frequencies (often high pitched) will typically be the first to go with early hearing loss.
- You hear some ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if your ears are ringing, a hearing test is most likely in order.
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a noisy or crowded place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
- You notice it’s tough to comprehend certain words. This red flag frequently appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at full volume. In most cases, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
Next Up: Take a Test
You still can’t be certain whether you’re dealing with hearing loss even if you are experiencing some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing exam to know for sure.
Broadly speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be an indication that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be established with a hearing assessment. Then it will become more obvious what has to be done about it.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.