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Man with hearing loss trying to hear at the dinner table with his family.

The last time you had dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. It was frustrating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing could be starting to go.

It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs surface, it’s most likely time to have your hearing examined.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Several of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But you may be dealing with some level of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.

Some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing impairment might include:

  • When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing occurred and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
  • Someone makes you realize that you keep turning the volume up. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
  • You notice it’s difficult to understand particular words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. 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.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud especially if it lasts for an extended period of time.
  • It’s suddenly very hard to comprehend phone calls: Today, because of texting, we use the phone a lot less than we once did. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily linked to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
  • You keep asking people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they talk, this is particularly true. You might not even notice you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while and you didn’t hear it. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in particular (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • Next Up: Get a Examination

    No matter how many of these early warning signs you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.

    In general, even one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. What level of hearing loss you may be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing examination. Then it will become more clear what needs to be done about it.

    This means your next family get together can be a lot more enjoyable.

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    The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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