The last time you ate dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was boisterous, 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 puppy. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It isn’t generally advisable to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But you could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.
Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:
There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
It’s suddenly very difficult to comprehend phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having difficulty comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
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 aware that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while and you didn’t hear it. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Early hearing loss is normally most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Some words seem harder to hear than others. This red flag often appears 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.
When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking several people to slow down, repeat what they said, or talk louder. Sometimes, you may not even recognize how often this is occurring and you may miss this red flag.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test
You still can’t be certain whether you’re dealing with hearing loss even if you are encountering some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing test to know for sure.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. A hearing test will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the right treatment.
This will make your next family get together a lot easier and more enjoyable.