The last time you had dinner with family, you were pretty aggravated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But there are some early red flags you should watch for. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing loss
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 could be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss could include:
- When you’re in a crowded noisy setting, you have trouble following conversations. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You discover it’s hard to make out certain words. This red flag often shows up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing assessment is probably in order.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
Next up: Take a exam
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.