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

Your last family dinner was frustrating. 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 boisterous, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new cat. It was frustrating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing may be starting to go.

It’s not typically recommended to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But there are a few early warning signs you should keep your eye on. If some of these warning signs surface, it’s probably time to have your hearing examined.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Some of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But you may be going through some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself recognizing some of these signs.

Some of the most common early signs of bad hearing might include:

  • You notice that certain sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering 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.
  • You keep asking people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking several people to slow down, repeat what they said, or talk louder. You might not even recognize you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Particular frequencies (often high pitched) will usually be the first to go with early hearing loss.
  • When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s typically an early sign of hearing problems.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to understand: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be facing another red flag for your hearing.
  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. 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 escalating volumes.
  • Some words seem harder to hear than others. This red flag frequently 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 often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
  • You notice some that your ears are ringing: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is probably in order.
  • Next Up: Get a Exam

    Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.

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

    This means your next family get together can be far 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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