The last time you had dinner with your family was a difficult experience. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. 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 frustrating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing might be starting to go.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get checked by a hearing professional.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Several of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be experiencing some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself detecting some of these signs.
Some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing impairment might include:
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be facing another red flag for your hearing.
- Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign often appears because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. Often, you might not even recognize how frequently this is occurring and you may miss this red flag.
- You have a difficult time making out interactions in a noisy or crowded place. In the “family dinner” example above, this exact thing occurred and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
- Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at max volume. In most cases, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your teapot has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Distinct frequencies (frequently high pitched) will usually be the first to go with early hearing loss.
- You notice that some sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
- You hear some that your ears are ringing: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily related to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination
You still can’t be certain whether you’re confronting hearing loss even if you are encountering some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing examination to know for sure.
You might very well be experiencing some amount 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 clear what has to be done about it.
This will make your next family gathering a lot smoother and more fun.