The last time you had dinner with family, you were quite aggravated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are the problem. 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, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for certain warnings. When enough of these warning signs pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on this list, you just could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment may include:
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss usually impacts specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. This early sign of hearing impairment could be happening without you even noticing.
- When you’re in a crowded loud setting, you have difficulty following conversations. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- You notice it’s hard to make out particular words. This red flag frequently appears because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). If you have ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also point to other health issues.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps you keep cranking the volume up on your cell phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are having this problem, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
Next up: Take 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 going bad: get a hearing test.
You might be dealing with hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing assessment will be able to tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the best treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more fun.