Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. The issue was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any members of your family. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t completely ignore the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It’s not generally recommended to attempt 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 obvious. 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 level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of bad hearing might include:
You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to speak up, repeat what they said, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. Often, you may not even recognize how frequently this is happening and you might miss this warning sign.
Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: These days, due to texting, we use the phone a lot less than we used to. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If particular sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot frequently go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is normally most noticeable in specific (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
You find it’s tough to comprehend particular words. This red flag frequently appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
You hear some that your ears are ringing: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically named tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily linked to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
Next Up: Get a Exam
Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you may encounter, there’s really only one way to recognize, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.
You could very well be going through some level of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing evaluation. Then it will become more obvious what needs to be done about it.
This will make your next family gathering a lot easier and more enjoyable.