The last time you had dinner with family, you were rather aggravated. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. And that was really irritating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It’s not generally suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly difficult to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing impairment
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you might be dealing with hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment could include:
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts specific frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: Texting is popular these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). 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 loss, can also point to other health problems.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Maybe the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are experiencing this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
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 test.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we determine the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.