Your last family get-together was disheartening. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. And that was really irritating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly challenging to do. But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is evident. But you might be experiencing hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. If you have ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health issues.
- Somebody notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- When you’re in a busy loud place, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- You notice it’s hard to make out particular words. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- 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 specific sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that may be an early hearing loss indicator.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is usually most obvious in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
Get a hearing test
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing test.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we determine the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.