Your last family get together was frustrating. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any members of your family. The whole experience was extremely aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get checked by a hearing professional.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Several of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But you might be going through some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment may include:
You hear some ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your teapot has been whistling for five minutes and you didn’t hear it. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Specific frequencies (frequently high pitched) will usually be the first to go with early hearing loss.
You keep needing people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. Often, you might not even acknowledge how frequently this is happening and you might miss this red flag.
Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are starting 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.
Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
It’s suddenly very difficult to comprehend phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having difficulty comprehending the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you may be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
- You have a tough time following conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test
You still can’t be certain whether you’re confronting hearing loss even if you are encountering some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing examination to know for sure.
Broadly speaking, even one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to get the right treatment.
This will make your next family get together a lot easier and more enjoyable.