Hearing was never an issue in my youth. Sure, we’d go swimming and then have problems with one ear but that would clear up overnight if not within the hour. Of course, the occasional firecracker volley in the bedroom would ring in the ears for a full day but that didn’t happen every week. Now, 50 to 60 years later, it’s a different story.

The ongoing debate in my household is who is more hearing-impaired, me or my wife. Of course, it’s not a very captivating debate because we can’t hear all the words the other is saying, which is just as well or the exchange could get testy.

“The house is afire.”

“What did you say?”

“Never mind. It’s not important.”

“No, I couldn’t hear you because I was turned away and you were mumbling. Now what did you say?”

“I don’t mumble.”

Ears ago we lived in an 8-by-40-foot trailer and never had any problems hearing each other. I always thought it was because sound has no place to hide living in a rectangular tube, but now I’m thinking we could hear each other because we were in our 30s.

My wife, who likes the opinions of professionals, has scheduled a hearing test. I don’t need a test as I hear perfectly. After a lifetime of power tools, chain saws, rock ’n’ roll and voices constantly screaming in my head, you would think that maybe I’ve had some hearing loss but I’m fine. Sure, 25 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer from disabling hearing loss. The other 75 percent just can’t hear as good as they used to. But I can’t possibly belong in either of those categories, or so I thought.

During rehearsal of a play that I was involved with, the director abruptly stopped the scene and shouted out to the sound technician to turn down the volume of the crickets. I had no idea that the cricket track was playing. Ouch.

In my 20s I remember listening to a speaker and amplifier hooked to a frequency generator that made higher and higher pitched tones until I could no longer hear them (around 17,000 Hz or cycles per second, quite a high pitch for the human ear). Maybe it was time to test my own hearing again.

I used a smartphone app to generate audio tones and as they got higher, I found I heard nothing above 7,200 Hz. That couldn’t be right. Surely my phone just couldn’t play those high frequencies.

To test my theory, I hooked up some gear that would listen to the sounds and show me visually, on a scope, if the sound really existed. I self-administered the test again. The scope verified that the high-pitched sound was there indeed. Moreover, my daughter ran into the room to track down that “painfully annoying, piercing sound.” The dog next door was howling wildly. I sat there oblivious to any high-pitched sound.

For do-it-yourselfers like me, help is on the horizon: Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids are almost here.

To increase the availability, ensure the quality and bring down the cost of hearing aids, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started to develop a new category of regulated medical devices in 2017 called Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing aids. Without going through a hearing health professional, this new category will be sold directly to consumers who feel they have mild-to-moderate hearing loss. They are not available yet but should be when the FDA issues its rules and quality standards by August 18, 2020, and a six-month comment period closes.

Some companies have jumped the gun and are already selling OTC hearing aids but these are not FDA approved or regulated. We will have to wait until 2021 for the authorized devices but with today’s electronics, there may be some dazzling options like models that you can tune and control with your cell phone. Will there be tie-ins to smart speakers where you can talk to your hearing aid and it will read your calendar? Will we want that?

There are certain advantages to slowly going deaf: we get to sleep without the annoyance of nearby car noise, early birds and morning mowers. Fortunately, we can still hear the smoke alarm and telephone.

Hearing loss tests a relationship. We will know when we’re really deaf when “I love you” whispered brings no response. Right now, even mumbled, it still brings a hug and a kiss.