The last time you ate dinner with family, you were pretty frustrated. It wasn’t because of family drama (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 opportunity to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new career. And that was really annoying. 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’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly difficult to do. But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. 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 early signs of hearing impairment may include:
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are experiencing this problem, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- You often 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 louder. This early sign of hearing impairment could be happening without you even noticing.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or perhaps, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe you keep cranking the volume up on your mobile phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Normally, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You may not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting pretty often. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This red flag usually shows up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy setting. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early signal of trouble with hearing.
Get a hearing exam
You may 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 exam.
You may be dealing with hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to determine the right treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more fun.