The last time you had dinner with your family was a difficult experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. The problem was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t totally discount the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs develop, it’s most likely time to get your hearing checked.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But you could be experiencing some level of hearing loss if you find yourself detecting some of these signs.
Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:
It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you 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.
Some words seem harder to hear than others. This red flag often pops up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. 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
There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily linked to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to talk louder, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. You may not even recognize you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in particular (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
You have a hard time following conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s typically an early sign of hearing problems.
Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your mobile device. Or perhaps your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
Next Up: Take a Examination
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
Generally speaking, even one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. A hearing test will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. Then it will become more evident what needs to be done about it.
This means your next family gathering can be a great deal more enjoyable.