Bananas taste a lot different than they used to. That’s because modern banana farmers grow a very different variety of banana than they used to. These new bananas sprout faster, are more robust, and can thrive in a wider variety of climates. And they taste very different. So why haven’t you noticed the great banana swap? Well, the reality is that it happened slowly–over time. The change was so gradual you never noticed.
The same thing can happen with your ears and hearing loss. It’s not like you wake up one day and can’t hear a thing. For most people, hearing loss progresses gradually–often so slowly that you don’t really realize what’s happening.
That’s unfortunate because early intervention can help preserve your hearing. If you know your hearing is in danger, for example, you might take more precautions to protect your hearing. That’s why it might be important to watch for these seven signs your hearing might be waning.
7 signs you should get a hearing test
Hearing loss happens slowly and over time –but it’s not always well understood. It’s not like you’ll go to a loud rock concert and the next day find yourself completely unable to hear. Damage to your hearing (from that rock concert and other loud noises) builds up over time. The earlier you treat your hearing loss, the better off you’ll be. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to an increased risk for issues such as dementia, social isolation, and dementia–so it’s not something you want to mess about with.
You should, uh, keep your ear to the ground, for these seven signs that you may be experiencing hearing loss. The only way to know for sure is to get a hearing test–but these signs might encourage you to make an appointment earlier than you otherwise would have.
Sign #1: You’re constantly turning the volume Up
Do you find yourself constantly reaching for the volume controls? Sure, maybe it’s just that all of your favorite actors and artists have started mumbling–or that the sound mixing on TV shows is drastically different than it used to be. But it’s also possible (if not likely) that your hearing is slowly degrading–and that you’re increasing the volume of your favorite TV show or music to compensate.
This is especially the case if your family has also constantly been telling you that the TV is too loud. They can often spot hearing trouble in you faster than you can.
Sign #2: You missed the doorbell (or a phone call)
If you’re constantly missing some everyday sounds, that could be a sign of trouble with your ears. Some of the most common noises you might miss include:
- Your doorbell (or a knock on the door): When your best friend suddenly walks into your house–consider the possibility that they did in fact knock, you just missed it.
- Alarms and timers: Did you sleep through your alarm clock? Did the dinner get burned? It may not be your alarm’s fault.
- Your phone: Are you missing text messages? (No one calls anymore–so you’re more likely to miss a text message than a phone call.)
If your loved ones have mentioned that they’re kind of afraid of driving with you because you miss so many everyday sounds (from honking horns to the beeping of a truck in reverse), that could be a sign that it’s time for a hearing test.
Sign #3: You’re always asking people to repeat themselves
Is “What?” or “Pardon?” your most commonly used words? If you’re always asking people to repeat themselves, it’s very, very possible it’s not because of them–it’s because of you (and your hearing). This is especially true if people do repeat themselves and you still can’t hear what they say. Probably time to schedule a hearing test.
Sign #4: It sounds like everyone’s always mumbling
You could also call this sign #3-A, since they go pretty well together. If it sounds like everyone around you is constantly mumbling or saying something under their breath, the reality is… well, they probably aren’t. That might be a relief (it’s no fun to be surrounded by people who you think are mumbling stuff about it). Instead, it’s more likely that you’re just having a hard time hearing what they’re saying.
This can be especially noticeable if you’re trying to listen to someone who has a higher pitched voice–or if you have to have a conversation in a noisy space, such as a restaurant.
Sign #5: Family members encourage you to take a hearing test (or get hearing aids)
Your family and loved ones probably know you pretty well. It’s likely that at least some of them have pretty healthy hearing. If your (especially younger) family members are telling you that something is wrong with your hearing, it’s a good idea to listen to them (no pun intended).
We understand that it’s all too easy to sort of rationalize this advice away. Maybe you think they just caught you on a bad day or something. But you could do your hearing a favor by taking their advice.
Sign #6: You hear ringing in your ears (or experience vertigo)
Ringing in your ears is a condition called tinnitus. It’s incredibly common. There are a couple of reasons why you might experience more ringing in your ears when you have hearing loss:
- Damage can cause both: Damage causes both tinnitus and hearing loss. So the more damaged your hearing system is, the more likely you are to experience both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Hearing loss can make tinnitus more noticeable: In your typical day-to-day life, tinnitus can be overwhelmed by the everyday noises you encounter. But as those everyday noises recede to the background (due to hearing loss), the tinnitus becomes relatively louder and substantially more noticeable.
Either way, if you’re experiencing loud ringing–or even dizziness and vertigo–it could be a sign that something is going on in your ears. And that means (no prize here), yes, you should go see a hearing specialist.
Sign #7: Socializing leaves you feeling exhausted
Maybe you’ve always been an introvert at heart–and that’s why social situations have grown completely exhausting. Or maybe–and just hear us out here (again with the puns)–your hearing isn’t what it used to be.
When you leave a restaurant or a social event feeling utterly drained, your hearing (or lack thereof) could be the cause. When there are gaps in what you hear, your brain tries really hard to fill in those gaps. This is exhausting (no matter how good your brain is), especially over the long run. So when you’re in particularly strenuous situations (like a noisy space), you may experience even more exhaustion.
Start by seeing a hearing specialist
The truth is that we all encounter some hearing damage in our lifetimes. Just how much (and how often you were wearing hearing protection) may have a huge impact on when you develop hearing loss–or if you develop hearing loss at all.
So if you’ve encountered any of these signs, it’s an indication that the banana is changing. Thankfully, there’s something you can do about it: see a hearing specialist and get tested! The sooner your hearing loss is diagnosed, the sooner you’ll be able to receive treatment.
Find a provider in your area to schedule a hearing test by searching providers near you.