Your last family get-together was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear anything over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was difficult. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally discount the idea that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be especially challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you might be dealing with hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You discover it’s difficult to understand certain words. This warning sign 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. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- 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 you are experiencing this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss usually affects particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: You might not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting fairly often. 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 keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment could be happening without you even noticing.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Normally, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
Next up: Take a exam
No matter how many of these early red flags you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing exam.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the best treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.