The last time you ate dinner with family, you were quite aggravated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. And that was really irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you have to admit that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is evident. But you could be dealing with hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:
- Specific words are hard to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become difficult to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to speak more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. This early sign of hearing impairment could be occurring without you even noticing.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: Texting is popular nowadays, so you may not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just noticed your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most noticeable in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are having this problem, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- When you’re in a crowded noisy place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds as well: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). If you have ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing exam is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s frequently an early warning of hearing impairment, can also point to other health issues.
Next up: Take a exam
You may 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 test.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what degree of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the correct treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.