Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. 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 of your family members. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t totally discount the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But there are a few early warning signs you should keep on your radar. If some of these warning signs appear, it’s most likely time to get your hearing checked.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Several of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But you might be dealing with some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself detecting some of these signs.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
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 have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
Someone makes you aware that you keep turning the volume up. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
You notice that certain sounds become unbearably loud. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing 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.
You find it’s hard to understand certain words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s typically an early sign of trouble with hearing.
You keep needing people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to talk louder, repeat what they said, or slow down when they talk, this is particularly true. You may not even recognize you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always connected with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you find your teapot has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most recognizable in distinct (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Next Up: Get a Examination
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.
You may very well be experiencing some level of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better prepared to get the proper treatment.
This will make your next family get together a lot easier and more fun.