Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t entirely discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It’s not typically advisable to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs show up, it’s probably time to get your hearing checked.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But if you should find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be going through some amount of hearing loss.
Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in particular (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Someone makes you aware that you keep turning the volume up. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. You might not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. In the “family dinner” illustration above, this specific thing happened and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
- Certain words seem harder to hear than others. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If distinct sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty comprehending the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
Next Up: Get a Exam
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is fading: get a hearing test.
You could very well be experiencing some level of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing examination will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to get the right treatment.
This will make your next family gathering a lot smoother and more enjoyable.