The last time you had dinner with family, you were pretty frustrated. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was difficult. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely dismiss the idea that perhaps your hearing is starting to fail.
It can be especially challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. But you could be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment could include:
- Normal sounds seem 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 you are experiencing this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Normally, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing impairment could be occurring without you even noticing.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably needed.
- When you’re in a crowded loud place, you have trouble following conversations. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to make out phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
Get a hearing assessment
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 test.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to identify how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the best treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.