Your last family get together was frustrating. It wasn’t because your family was having a difficult 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 of your family members. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing could be starting to wane.
It’s not generally advisable to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But there are some early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get checked by a hearing professional.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Several of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be going through some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself detecting some of these signs.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment might include:
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, repeat what they said, or speak up. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Someone makes you aware that you keep turning the volume up. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you recognize the increasing volumes.
- You hear some ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily connected with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to comprehend phone calls: Today, due to texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. But if you’re having difficulty comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- 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 commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
- Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, 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.
- High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in distinct (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations often get lost. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing occurred and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
Next Up: Take 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 fading: get your hearing tested.
You might very well be going through some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing loss you may be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing examination. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the correct treatment.
This will make your next family get together a lot easier and more enjoyable.