Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Todd’s new cat. It was irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing may be starting to wane.
It can be very difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not advisable). But there are a few early warning signs you should keep on your radar. If some of these warning signs appear, it’s probably time to have your hearing tested.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Several of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be dealing with some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing impairment might include:
Some words seem harder to hear than others. This red flag often pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. Normally, 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.
You have a tough time hearing conversations in a noisy or crowded place. In the “family dinner” illustration above, this exact thing occurred and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you aware of the increasing volumes.
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily related to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Specific frequencies (frequently high pitched) will typically be the first to go with early hearing loss.
You keep asking people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, repeat what they said, or talk louder. You might not even realize you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to comprehend: Nowadays, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having trouble hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
Next Up: Take a Examination
You still can’t be certain whether you’re confronting 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 may very well be experiencing some level of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing examination will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better prepared to get the correct treatment.
This will make your next family get together a lot easier and more enjoyable.