Your last family dinner was frustrating. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Todd’s new puppy. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t totally ignore the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.
It can be very difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs show up, it’s probably time to have your hearing tested.
Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Some of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you might be experiencing some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment 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 have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your teapot has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
- It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having problems understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
- You find it’s tough to comprehend particular words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also often 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, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily connected with hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
- You find that certain sounds become unbearably loud. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering 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.
Next Up: Take a Test
No matter how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.
You might very well be going through some level of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to get the right treatment.
This will make your next family gathering a lot easier and more enjoyable.