Your last family dinner was discouraging. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was boisterous, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Jay’s new cat. The whole experience was extremely aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing might be starting to go.
It isn’t typically recommended to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But there are some early warning signs you should keep your eye on. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But if you should find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be dealing with some amount of hearing loss.
Some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing impairment may include:
- There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily related to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- You find it’s tough to comprehend particular words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
- You keep needing people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. Sometimes, you might not even recognize how frequently this is happening and you might miss this warning sign.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: Today, because of texting, we use the phone a lot less than we used to. But if you’re having problems understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You find that certain sounds become unbearably loud. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If specific sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Or maybe your TV speakers are maxed out. In most cases, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have problems hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is normally most recognizable in distinct (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a noisy or crowded place. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing happened and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
Next Up: Get a Test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may encounter, there’s really only one way to recognize, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
Broadly speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. A hearing test will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the right treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be far more enjoyable.