The last time you ate dinner with your family was a difficult experience. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was boisterous, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any members of your family. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It’s not typically recommended to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags surface, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get checked by a hearing professional.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But if you happen to find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be dealing with some degree of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
You find it’s difficult to understand certain words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to talk louder, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is especially true. Sometimes, you might not even acknowledge how frequently this is happening and you may miss this warning sign.
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If distinct sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile device. Or perhaps your TV speakers are maxed out. In most cases, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot sometimes go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in specific (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. In the “family dinner” example above, this exact thing happened and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily connected with hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to recognize, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
Broadly speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. A hearing examination will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. Then it will become more evident what has to be done about it.
This means your next family get together can be a lot more enjoyable.