The last time you had dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t 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 puppy. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing may be starting to wane.
It isn’t typically recommended to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually 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 tested by a hearing specialist.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Several of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be dealing with some amount of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment might include:
- You have a tough time following conversations in a crowded or noisy place. In the “family dinner” example above, this exact thing occurred and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
- Someone makes you aware that you keep turning the volume up. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Possibly 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.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to comprehend phone calls: 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 cranked 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.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is especially true. Often, you might not even recognize how often this is happening and you might miss this red flag.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically named tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign frequently appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud especially if it lasts for an extended period of time.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You could very well be experiencing some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. Then it will become more clear what has to be done about it.
This will make your next family get together a lot easier and more enjoyable.