The last time you ate dinner with your family was a difficult experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. The issue was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Todd’s new cat. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It isn’t generally advisable to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags emerge, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get checked by a hearing professional.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Some of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be dealing with some amount of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
You hear some ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other noises, is technically named tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always connected with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
You find that some sounds become intolerably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If particular sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to understand: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you recognize the escalating volumes.
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 usually most recognizable in specific (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
You find it’s difficult to comprehend particular words. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
You have a difficult time making out conversations in a noisy or crowded place. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
- You keep needing people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to talk louder, repeat themselves, or slow down when they talk, this is especially true. Often, you may not even recognize how often this is happening and you might miss this red flag.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to recognize, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.
You may very well be going through some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing test will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Then it will become more obvious what has to be done about it.
This means your next family get together can be a lot more enjoyable.