Your last family dinner was frustrating. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new puppy. And that was really irritating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you have to acknowledge that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly challenging to do. But there are some early warning signs you should watch for. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to call us for a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is obvious. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on this list, you just could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: Texting is popular nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. You might not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You notice that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this problem, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- You discover it’s difficult to understand certain words. This symptom takes place when consonants become difficult to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
- When you’re in a busy noisy setting, you have trouble following conversations. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is normally most obvious in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
Next up: Take a exam
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.
You might be dealing with hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing assessment will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we discover 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 get-together.