Your last family get-together was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new puppy. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you can’t completely dismiss the idea that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing exam.
Early signs of hearing impairment
Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is evident. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on this list, you just could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
Some of the most common initial signs of hearing impairment may include:
- Specific words are difficult to understand. This symptom occurs when consonants become difficult to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
- You hear ringing in your ears: 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 experience 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 problems.
- You notice that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, remember that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are experiencing this issue, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing test.
- You often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak louder. This early sign of hearing loss could be occurring without you even noticing.
- It’s suddenly very hard to make out phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts particular frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep cranking up the volume on your mobile phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Normally, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
- You have a hard time hearing conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is frequently an early indication of hearing loss.
Get a hearing exam
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing evaluation will be able to tell you 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.