The last time you ate dinner with family, you were rather aggravated. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was frustrating. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are the problem. But you can’t completely discount the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to fail.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing assessment.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. 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 common early signs of hearing loss:
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of hearing impairment.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
- Somebody observes 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. Normally, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: You might not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting pretty often. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Hearing loss usually affects particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- Certain words are hard to understand. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- You find that some sounds become unbearably loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this problem, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- When you’re in a busy noisy setting, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
Next up: Take a exam
You might 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 test.
In general, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we determine the degree of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.