The last time you had dinner with your family was a difficult experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was boisterous, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. It was irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be very challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But there are a few early warning signs you should keep on your radar. If some of these warning signs surface, it’s probably time to have your hearing tested.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be experiencing some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. In the “family dinner” illustration above, this specific thing happened and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell frequently go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Distinct frequencies (frequently high pitched) will typically be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign frequently appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. Usually, 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.
You notice some that your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily connected with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud especially if it lasts for an extended period of time.
Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at full volume. In most cases, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
You frequently need 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. You might not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to comprehend: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having trouble comprehending the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Exam
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 fading: get a hearing test.
Broadly speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. What level of hearing impairment you might be dealing with can only be established with a hearing evaluation. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the correct treatment.
This means your next family get together can be much more enjoyable.