The last time you ate dinner with your family was a difficult experience. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any members of your family. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing might be starting to wane.

It’s not typically recommended to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags emerge, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing specialist.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But you could be going through some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself recognizing some of these signs.

Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:

  • You keep needing people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking several people to slow down, repeat what they said, or speak up. Sometimes, you might not even recognize how frequently this is occurring and you might miss this warning sign.
  • You have a difficult time hearing interactions in a noisy or crowded place. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
  • You experience some that your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily linked to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: Today, due to texting, we use the phone a lot less than we used to. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
  • Someone makes you aware that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or maybe your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. In most cases, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • High pitched sounds are hard to hear. 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 recognizable in distinct (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This red flag often appears because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • You find that certain sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing 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

    You still can’t be certain whether you’re dealing with hearing loss even if you are experiencing some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing examination to know for sure.

    You could very well be going through some level of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing examination will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. Then it will become more evident what needs to be done about it.

    This will make your next family get together a lot smoother and more fun.

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