The last time you ate dinner with family, you were quite frustrated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the cause of the frustration 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. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you have to admit that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. But you could be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. You might not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You find that some sounds become unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, keep in mind that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If specific sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that may be an early hearing loss indicator.
- Certain words are difficult to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: You might not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting pretty often. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- When you’re in a crowded loud place, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
Get a hearing test
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing test.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to identify how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the correct treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more enjoyable.