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Your last family get together was disheartening. It wasn’t because your family was having a difficult time getting along. The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was frustrating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t totally ignore the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.

It isn’t generally 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 spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get checked by a hearing professional.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be dealing with some amount of hearing loss.

Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment may include:

  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your mobile device. Or perhaps your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. In most cases, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations often get lost. In the “family dinner” illustration above, this specific thing occurred and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
  • It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having problems comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
  • You often need 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. You may not even notice you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot frequently go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Particular frequencies (frequently high pitched) will typically be the first to go with early hearing loss.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If distinct sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • You experience some ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
  • Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This red flag often appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • Next Up: Take a Exam

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

    You could very well be experiencing some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing impairment you may be dealing with can only be established with a hearing examination. Then it will become more clear what needs to be done about it.

    This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.

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