The last time you had dinner with family, you were pretty frustrated. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear anything over the boisterous noise of the room. 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. And that was really irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely discount the idea that maybe your hearing is starting to fail.
It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely challenging to do. But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.
Early signs of hearing impairment
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you might be dealing with hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment could include:
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing loss could be happening without you even noticing.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively 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 oppressively loud (especially if the issue doesn’t go away in short order), that may be an early hearing loss indicator.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But you might be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- When you’re in a busy noisy place, you have trouble following conversations. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss usually affects specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing assessment is probably needed.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep cranking up the volume on your cell phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. 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 become conflated.
Next up: Take a test
You may 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 red flags could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we discover the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.