Your last family get-together was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the cause of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new job. And that was really irritating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you have to admit that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing loss may include:
- You find that some sounds become unbearably 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 particular sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that may be an early hearing loss indicator.
- You have a hard time following conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing loss could be happening without you even noticing.
- You hear ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your cell phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss usually affects specific frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- Certain words are difficult to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become difficult to hear and distinguish. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- 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 you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
Next up: Take a test
You might 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 assessment.
In general, any single one of these early red flags could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more fun.