Your last family get-together was disheartening. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. And that was really irritating. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are the problem. But you have to acknowledge that it may be a problem with your hearing.
It can be especially difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warnings. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you may be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment may include:
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps the volume on your cell phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
- You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking numerous people to slow down, say something again, or speak louder. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most obvious in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- You have a hard time following conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: 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 confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You discover it’s difficult to understand certain words. This symptom happens when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
Get a hearing assessment
You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the right treatment.
This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.