The last time you ate dinner with family, you were quite aggravated. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. It was frustrating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you can’t completely dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be especially difficult 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 red flags pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on this list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment may include:
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Maybe you keep cranking the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- 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 generally affects particular frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- You discover it’s difficult to understand certain words. This symptom happens when consonants become difficult to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- You hear ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds as well: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds 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.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: Texting is popular these days, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you used to. 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.
- When you’re in a busy noisy setting, you have difficulty following conversations. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
Get a hearing assessment
No matter how many of these early red flags you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing test.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the right treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more fun.