Your last family get-together was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you have to acknowledge that it may be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But you should keep your eye out for certain warnings. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment may include:
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Normally, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You notice it’s hard to understand particular words. This red flag frequently pops up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a busy or noisy location. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss usually impacts particular frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this issue, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting pretty often. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
Get a hearing assessment
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing test.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we discover the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.