Your last family dinner was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the issue 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 the ability to ask about Todd’s new puppy. And that was really irritating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you have to admit that it may be a problem with your hearing.
It can be especially difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But you could be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Early hearing loss is typically most noticeable in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are experiencing this problem, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps you keep cranking up the volume on your mobile phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- When you’re in a crowded loud setting, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. This early sign of hearing loss could be happening without you even noticing.
- You notice ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also point to other health issues.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to make out phone calls: You might not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting fairly often. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- Certain words are difficult to understand. This red flag frequently appears because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
Get a hearing assessment
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing test.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing evaluation will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we determine the level of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.