The last time you ate dinner with family, you were quite aggravated. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new job. And that was really irritating. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are the problem. But you can’t totally discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It’s not generally suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly difficult to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough of these warning signs pop up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing loss could include:
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (especially if the problem doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- When you’re in a crowded loud setting, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is often an early sign of hearing loss.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: Texting is popular these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You notice it’s hard to make out particular words. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are starting to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing loss, can also indicate other health problems.
- You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. You might not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices is getting 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, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Get a hearing test
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing exam.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more fun.