Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new job. And that was really irritating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to fail.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on this list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing loss may include:
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). If you have ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health problems.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You discover it’s hard to make out certain words. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss generally impacts specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this issue, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
Get a hearing test
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing exam.
You might be dealing with hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing evaluation will be able to tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the correct treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.