The last time you had dinner with your family was a difficult experience. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). The problem was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing might be starting to wane.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs develop, it’s most likely time to have your hearing tested.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just might be dealing with some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of bad hearing might include:
- 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 talk louder. You may not even notice you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You have a hard time hearing interactions in a noisy or crowded place. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
- You notice that certain sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing 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.
- Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign frequently pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Normally, 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.
- High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Distinct frequencies (often high pitched) will typically be the first to go with early hearing loss.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: These days, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we used to. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds too: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is most likely in order.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test
You still can’t be certain whether you’re dealing with hearing loss even if you are encountering some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing exam to know for sure.
You could very well be going through some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better prepared to get the right treatment.
This will make your next family gathering a lot smoother and more enjoyable.