Your last family dinner was discouraging. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). 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. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing might be starting to wane.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags emerge, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Several of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be going through some level of hearing loss.
Some of the most common early signs of bad hearing may include:
- Someone makes you realize that you keep turning the volume up. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile device. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
- Some words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. 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
- You have a tough time following interactions in a crowded or noisy place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s typically an early sign of trouble with hearing.
- You find that certain sounds become unbearably loud. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud especially if it lasts for an extended period of time.
- High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot frequently go undetected for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking several people to slow down, repeat what they said, or speak up. You might not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to comprehend: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having trouble hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
- You notice some that your ears are ringing: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other noises, is technically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if your ears are ringing, a hearing exam is most likely in order.
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 certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
Broadly speaking, even one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. What level of hearing loss you may be dealing with can only be established with a hearing evaluation. Then it will become more evident what needs to be done about it.
This means your next family gathering can be far more enjoyable.