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. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was boisterous, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any of your family members. The whole experience was extremely aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t entirely ignore the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It’s not generally recommended to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags surface, it’s worth making an appointment to get examined by a hearing specialist.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be dealing with some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- Some words seem harder to hear than others. 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
- It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having problems comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
- High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Early hearing loss is usually most recognizable in specific (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You hear some ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
- Someone makes you aware that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe your TV speakers are maxed out. In most cases, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- You keep asking people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to talk louder, repeat what they said, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. You may not even notice you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- You have a hard time hearing interactions in a crowded or noisy place. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing occurred and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
Next Up: Take a Test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with certainty, whether your hearing is fading: get a hearing test.
You might very well be experiencing some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing examination will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Then it will become more obvious what needs to be done about it.
This means your next family gathering can be a lot more enjoyable.