The last time you had dinner with family, you were pretty aggravated. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new career. It was difficult. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it may be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly challenging to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to call us for a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing loss
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss could include:
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, keep in mind that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (especially if the issue doesn’t go away in short order), that may be an early hearing loss symptom.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to make out phone calls: Texting is popular nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Specific words are difficult to understand. This symptom takes place when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss usually affects particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early sign of trouble with hearing.
Next up: Take a exam
No matter how many of these early red flags you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to tell you how bad it is. Once we determine the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.