Most people have no idea that they are experiencing a hearing loss until they have an advanced condition or a loved one insists on a hearing test, because hearing loss tends to creep up on you. The range of treatment options available to me to help restore your hearing or to prevent additional damage are greatly enhanced with early detection. As a part of my commitment to provide the Mississippi Coast with top-level hearing healthcare, I have compiled some early warning signs of hearing loss to help motivate you to get a hearing test.

You Need Frequent Clarification

Has the phrase “What did you say?” become a common part of your vocabulary, especially when you are in a crowded room or a busy restaurant? The need for frequent clarification of what someone said is a possible indicator of hearing loss. When you are not in a crowded room, you might notice that understanding women and children, who speak at higher frequencies, has become more difficult as well. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize the frequency of asking others to repeat themselves because it becomes such a regular part of conversations until family and friends point it out.

You Avoid Phone Conversations

Avoiding conversations over the phone could mean that you are having trouble hearing what others are saying. We sort out what others say using non-verbal visual cues when speaking face to face, but when those cues are absent, we have to rely on what we hear alone. This is why talking on the phone becomes difficult if you are suffering from a hearing loss.

Everyone Is Mumbling

I will agree that not all people enunciate clearly when they speak, but the majority of people do. An early sign of hearing loss is an increasing frustration with others because they are mumbling. An increased difficulty to identify consonants in words and sentences [K1] is a warning sign that you might be experiencing a hearing loss. Those who speak rapidly exacerbate the issue. Listen closely when others are speaking. If it seems like they are hurrying from one vowel-loaded word to another, it might be time to schedule a hearing test.

Heavy Dependency on the Remote Control

Although demanding and abusing the power of the remote control is not always an indicator of hearing loss, an increasing need to be able to turn up the volume on the television could be. A heavy dependency on the TV remote for volume control will usually go along with a need to turn up the volume on the radio, cell phone, and other audio-related electronics. Consider having your hearing checked if this has become a regular habit, especially if loved ones are complaining about it.

An Increase in Headaches and Fatigue

Although an increased frequency of headaches and fatigue are symptoms that coincide with a variety of health conditions, they can also be an indicator of hearing loss, especially if your workday or daily activities include engaging others in conversation. With some effort, we can usually unpack those things causing stress in our lives, but it is baffling when everything is going well. The source of your stress could be your struggle to hear what others are saying, which causes you to strain. Straining to understand what others are saying can cause stress, fatigue, and headaches as you work to fill in the blanks you are not hearing.

Noticeable Ringing or Hissing

Ringing, buzzing, whooshing, or hissing are common ways of describing the symptoms of tinnitus. Tinnitus causes you to hear sounds that really do not exist, and it is a common symptom of auditory damage caused by frequent exposure to loud noise or age-related deterioration. If sounds like these, regardless of how you describe it, are ongoing and never seem to disappear, you could be suffering from tinnitus and should seek help before it gets worse.

How Can a Hearing Test Help?

One, several, or all of the scenarios listed above should be motivation for you to contact an audiologist for testing. A diagnostic evaluation allows me to determine the type, nature, and degree of your hearing loss. Hearing tests are not painful nor are they invasive, but they allow me to assess your hearing acuity and your capacity to understand speech and sounds at different pitches and volume levels. Of greater importance to your overall health, they allow me to provide you with the specific treatment you need.

I strongly encourage you to make an appointment for a complete hearing evaluation if you are experiencing any of these early warning signs. By getting a head start on treating your hearing loss, my team and I at Coastal Hearing Center can prevent further damage and restore both your hearing and your quality of life.

Contact us for additional information about identifying hearing loss in yourself or a loved one, or set up an appointment in either of our Coastal Hearing Centers in Biloxi or Gulfport, MS.

Dr. Karen Slater Audiologist

Dr. Karen Slater has been practicing on the coast since 1991 and is co-owner of Coastal Hearing Center. Dr. Slater received her bachelor of science and master of science from the University of Southern Mississippi and her doctorate of audiology from the University of Florida.