The last time you had dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t hear the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Jay’s new puppy. It was irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing might be starting to wane.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not advisable). But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get checked by a hearing specialist.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But if you happen to find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just might be dealing with some amount of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- You have problems hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Distinct frequencies (frequently high pitched) will usually be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
- You keep asking people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. You might not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You experience some ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if your ears are ringing, a hearing exam is most likely in order.
- When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. In the “family dinner” illustration above, this specific thing happened and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: These days, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. But if you’re having trouble comprehending the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You notice that some sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud especially if it lasts for an extended period of time.
- Some words seem harder to hear than others. This red flag often pops up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.
Broadly speaking, even one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be established with a hearing evaluation. Then it will become more clear what needs to be done about it.
This means your next family gathering can be a lot more enjoyable.