Your last family get-together was disheartening. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the cause of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. It was frustrating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you have to acknowledge that it may be an issue with your hearing.
It’s not generally suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly difficult to do. But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough red flags appear, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing assessment.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Most of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you may be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Some of the most common early signs of hearing loss could include:
- You notice it’s hard to understand particular words. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. In some cases, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that get lost.
- Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If you are having this problem, especially if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
- High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most obvious in specific (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 might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But you may be experiencing another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
- You have a difficult time following conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably needed.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. You might not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
Get a hearing assessment
You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we discover the level 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 gathering.