Your last family get together was disheartening. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Jay’s new cat. It was irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally discount the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not advisable). But there are a few early warning signs you should keep your eye on. When enough of these red flags emerge, 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 happen to find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be dealing with some level of hearing loss.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
- High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is usually most recognizable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds too: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). 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.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult 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 cranked 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 that certain sounds become intolerably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with loss of hearing, 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.
- You find it’s difficult to comprehend particular words. This red flag often appears because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
- Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile device. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
- You keep asking people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, repeat what they said, or talk louder. Sometimes, you may not even recognize how frequently this is happening and you might miss this warning sign.
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test
Regardless of 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.
Broadly speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. What level of hearing impairment you may be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing examination. Then it will become more evident what has to be done about it.
This will make your next family gathering a lot easier and more enjoyable.