The last time you ate dinner with family, you were rather frustrated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the cause of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new job. And that was really annoying. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely discount the idea that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But you might be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You notice it’s hard to understand certain words. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You might not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting pretty often. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- When you’re in a crowded loud place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is frequently an early indication of hearing loss.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. You might not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most noticeable in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are experiencing this problem, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- 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 perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably needed.
Get a hearing assessment
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing evaluation will be able to tell you how bad it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the correct treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more fun.