The last time you ate 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 loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are to blame. But you can’t completely discount the idea that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on this list, you just might be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing assessment is probably needed.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You notice that some sounds become oppressively loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are experiencing this problem, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
- You notice it’s hard to understand particular words. This warning sign frequently pops up because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- When you’re in a busy noisy setting, you have difficulty following conversations. This is frequently an early indication of hearing loss.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: You might not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting pretty often. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
Get a hearing test
You might 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.
You may be dealing with hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we determine 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 gathering.