Your last family get together was discouraging. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always some of that). The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any members of your family. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to admit 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 you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing specialist.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But you might be experiencing some level of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.
Some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing impairment may include:
Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: These days, 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 difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot sometimes go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is typically most recognizable in particular (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may 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.
Someone makes you realize that you keep turning the volume up. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
You have a tough time following conversations in a noisy or crowded place. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
You notice it’s hard to comprehend particular words. This red flag often appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
You keep asking people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking several people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. Sometimes, you may not even acknowledge how frequently this is occurring and you may miss this warning sign.
There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is most likely in order.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Exam
You still can’t be certain whether you’re dealing with hearing loss even if you are experiencing some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing exam to know for sure.
You could very well be going through some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing assessment 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.