Your last family get-together was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some 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 kitten or Sally’s new career. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to admit that it might be an issue with your hearing.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But you may be experiencing 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:
- It’s suddenly very difficult to make out phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. 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.
- Certain words are difficult to understand. This red flag often appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing loss, can also point to other health issues.
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this problem, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss usually impacts particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- When you’re in a busy noisy place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early indication of trouble with hearing.
Next up: Take a exam
No matter how many of these early red flags you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing examination will be able to tell you how bad it is. Once we identify 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.