Your last family get-together was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the problem 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 kitten or Sally’s new career. And that was really annoying. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you have to admit that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly difficult to do. But you should keep your eye out for certain warnings. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment may include:
- You notice it’s hard to understand certain words. This red flag often pops up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- You notice ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing loss may be occurring without you even noticing.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If specific sounds become oppressively loud (especially if the issue doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Hearing loss generally affects particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
Next up: Take a test
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 assessment.
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 exists, a hearing assessment will be able to identify how bad 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 fun.