Your last family get-together was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new career. And that was really annoying. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely discount the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to fail.
It’s not generally suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing loss
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you may be experiencing hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing loss could be occurring without you even noticing.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
- You notice it’s hard to understand particular words. This warning sign usually appears because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to distinguish. Normally, 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.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, keep in mind that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
- You notice ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. If you have ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing loss, can also indicate other health problems.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You may not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting pretty often. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your cell phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss usually impacts specific frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
Next up: Take a test
No matter how many of these early red flags you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing test.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the right treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more enjoyable.