The last time you ate dinner with family, you were rather aggravated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was loud, 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. And that was really irritating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to admit 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 red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing impairment
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss may include:
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You notice it’s difficult to make out certain words. This symptom happens when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps 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 notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also indicate other health problems.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment could be happening without you even noticing.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- You notice that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are having this problem, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
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 certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the correct treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.