The last time you had dinner with your family was a difficult experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. The whole experience was extremely aggravating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing could be starting to wane.
It can be extremely difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Some of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be experiencing some level of hearing loss if you find yourself recognizing some of these signs.
Some of the most common early signs of bad hearing might include:
- When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. In the “family dinner” illustration above, this specific thing occurred and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
- You keep needing people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. You might not even recognize you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
- 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 is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is probably in order.
- Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: 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 difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
- Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you recognize the escalating volumes.
- You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. This early warning sign is less common, 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 notice it’s tough to comprehend certain words. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
It’s Time to Get a Hearing Exam
No matter how many of these early warning signs you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is fading: get a hearing test.
You may very well be going through some level of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing impairment you might be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing test. Then it will become more obvious what has to be done about it.
This will make your next family gathering a lot easier and more fun.