Your last family get together was frustrating. It wasn’t because your family was having a difficult time getting along. The issue was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Jay’s new cat. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not advisable). But there are some early warning signs you should keep your eye on. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Some of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But if you should find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
You keep needing people to repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. Often, you may not even recognize how often this is happening and you may miss this red flag.
You notice some ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other noises, is technically named tinnitus. Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if your ears are ringing, a hearing exam is most likely in order.
When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
You find that some sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering 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.
Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to comprehend: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having trouble comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be facing another red flag for your hearing.
You find it’s difficult to comprehend certain words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Particular frequencies (frequently high pitched) will usually be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
Someone makes you aware that you keep turning the volume up. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You may very well be going through some level of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing examination will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Then it will become more evident what has to be done about it.
This will make your next family gathering a lot easier and more enjoyable.