The last time you had dinner with family, you were quite aggravated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. It was frustrating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you have to admit that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It’s not usually recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely difficult to do. But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is evident. But you might be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You discover it’s hard to understand particular words. This symptom takes place when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic noises 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.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (especially if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You may not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting pretty often. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- When you’re in a busy noisy place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
Next up: Take a test
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 exam.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we discover the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.