The last time you had dinner with family, you were rather aggravated. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud 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 dog. And that was really annoying. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it might be an issue with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely challenging to do. But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing loss
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. 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 initial signs of hearing loss may include:
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Hearing loss usually affects particular frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting fairly often. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are experiencing this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises 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 often an early warning of hearing loss, can also indicate other health problems.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. You might not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- You notice it’s hard to make out particular words. This red flag frequently shows up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
Get a hearing assessment
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we discover the level of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.