The last time you ate dinner with family, you were quite aggravated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the cause of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to admit that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely difficult to do. But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on this list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment could include:
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your cell phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are experiencing this problem, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- When you’re in a busy loud setting, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- Certain words are hard to understand. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health issues.
- You frequently need 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. This early sign of hearing loss could be happening without you even noticing.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is usually most obvious in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: You might not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting pretty often. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
Get a hearing exam
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing test.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing examination will be able to tell you how far gone it is. Once we discover the level of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more enjoyable.