Your last family dinner was disheartening. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was boisterous, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any members of your family. It was irritating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing might be starting to wane.
It can be very difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get examined by a hearing specialist.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Some of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But you may be going through some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself recognizing some of these signs.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment may include:
- Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you recognize the increasing volumes.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking several people to slow down, repeat what they said, or speak up. You might not even realize you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while and you didn’t hear it. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Specific frequencies (frequently high pitched) will usually be the first to go with early hearing loss.
- You find it’s difficult to understand particular words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily associated with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If specific sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having trouble comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
Next Up: Get a Examination
You still can’t be certain whether you’re dealing with hearing loss even if you are encountering some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing examination to know for sure.
You might very well be going through some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing loss you may be dealing with can only be established with a hearing examination. Then it will become more obvious what needs to be done about it.
This means your next family gathering can be a lot more enjoyable.