Your last family get-together was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. It was difficult. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are the problem. But you can’t completely discount the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just could be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t go away in short order), that may be an early hearing loss indicator.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to make out phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting fairly often. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss generally impacts specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. If you have ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also point to other health issues.
- Somebody notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- You discover it’s difficult to understand certain words. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. You might not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- When you’re in a crowded loud place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
Next up: Take a exam
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing exam.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we determine the level of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.