Your last family dinner was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the cause of the stress 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 dog. And that was really annoying. 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 a problem with your hearing.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing impairment
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss may include:
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Maybe the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting fairly often. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. This early sign of hearing loss may be occurring without you even noticing.
- You notice ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This red flag frequently pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming more difficult to differentiate. 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.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally affects specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- 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 might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that may be an early hearing loss symptom.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a busy or noisy location. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
Get a hearing assessment
No matter how many of these early red flags you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the correct treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more fun.