Your last family get together was frustrating. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing may be starting to go.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But there are some early warning signs you should keep on your radar. If some of these warning signs develop, it’s most likely time to get your hearing examined.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But if you should find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing impairment might include:
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell frequently go undetected for several minutes or more. Specific frequencies (often high pitched) will usually be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile device. Or perhaps your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. In most cases, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. Sometimes, you may not even recognize how frequently this is occurring and you might miss this red flag.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a crowded or noisy place. In the “family dinner” example above, this exact thing happened and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
- Certain words seem harder to hear than others. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: Today, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. This early warning sign is less prevalent, 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 especially if it lasts for an extended period of time.
Next Up: Get a Test
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You may very well be experiencing some level of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing test will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Then it will become more evident what has to be done about it.
This will make your next family gathering a lot easier and more enjoyable.