Your last family get together was frustrating. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. It was irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It isn’t typically advisable to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags emerge, it’s worth making an appointment to get tested by a hearing specialist.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But you may be dealing with some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself detecting some of these signs.
Some of the most common early signs of bad hearing may include:
You notice it’s difficult to understand certain words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always connected with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
You have a hard time following conversations in a crowded or noisy place. In the “family dinner” example above, this exact thing happened and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Maybe you find your teapot has been whistling for a while and you didn’t hear it. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Specific frequencies (frequently high pitched) will typically be the first to go with early hearing loss.
Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: Nowadays, because of texting, we use the phone a lot less than we 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.
Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
You keep asking people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to talk louder, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. Sometimes, you may not even recognize how frequently this is occurring and you might miss this warning sign.
Next Up: Get a Test
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 going bad: get your hearing tested.
You might very well be experiencing some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing loss you may be dealing with can only be established with a hearing evaluation. Then it will become more clear what needs to be done about it.
This will make your next family get together a lot smoother and more fun.