The last time you had dinner with family, you were pretty aggravated. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear a thing over the boisterous 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 difficult. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you can’t entirely dismiss the idea that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing loss
The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. 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:
- When you’re in a busy noisy setting, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
- You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also point to other health problems.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are having this problem, particularly if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- Certain words are difficult to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk slower, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
Next up: Take a exam
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 might be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we determine the degree of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family gathering.