The last time you ate dinner with family, you were pretty aggravated. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you have to admit that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly difficult to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing assessment.
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 might be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss could include:
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are experiencing this issue, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing impairment could be happening without you even noticing.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You might not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting pretty often. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You hear ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss usually affects specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- When you’re in a busy noisy setting, you have trouble following conversations. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
- Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep cranking up the volume on your cell phone. Or maybe, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You discover it’s difficult to make out certain words. This red flag usually appears because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
Get a hearing test
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing exam.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more enjoyable.