The last time you had dinner with family, you were quite frustrated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. It was difficult. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely discount the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely difficult to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is noticeable. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking numerous people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also point to other health issues.
- You have a hard time following conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most obvious in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, keep in mind that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Maybe you keep cranking up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You notice it’s difficult to make out particular words. This symptom takes place when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
Next up: Take a test
You might 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 exam.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the level of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.