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

Your last family dinner 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 Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Jay’s new cat. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.

It’s not generally recommended to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. 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.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But you may be going through some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.

Here are a few of the warning signs of 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 specific sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s typically an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • It’s suddenly very difficult to comprehend phone calls: Today, due to texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. But if you’re having difficulty comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
  • You keep needing people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. Often, you may not even acknowledge how frequently this is happening and you may miss this warning sign.
  • Someone makes you aware that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile device. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you recognize the increasing volumes.
  • You hear some that your ears are ringing: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically named tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
  • High pitched sounds are difficult 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. Specific frequencies (frequently high pitched) will typically be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
  • Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds

Next Up: Get 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.

In general, even one of these early warning signs could be an indication that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. A hearing test will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Then it will become more evident what needs to be done about it.

This means your next family get together can be a great deal 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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