The last time you ate dinner with family, you were quite frustrated. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are to blame. But you can’t totally dismiss the idea that perhaps your hearing is starting to fail.
It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But there are some early red flags you should watch for. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is normally most noticeable in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You find that some sounds become unbearably loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this problem, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing test.
- Specific words are hard to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- You’re suddenly finding it hard to hear when you’re talking on the phone: Texting is popular nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak more slowly, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment may be occurring without you even noticing.
- A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early sign of trouble with hearing.
Get a hearing assessment
You may 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 assessment.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing evaluation will be able to tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the right treatment.
This means your next family get-together can be much more fun.