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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 difficult experience. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always some of that). The issue was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any of your family members. It was irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing could be starting to go.

It can be extremely challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs develop, it’s most likely time to get your hearing tested.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But you could be dealing with some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.

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

  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds too: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is most likely in order.
  • You have problems hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Distinct frequencies (often high pitched) will usually be the first to go with early hearing loss.
  • It’s suddenly very hard to comprehend phone calls: Nowadays, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we used to. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having trouble hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
  • When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
  • Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. 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 kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • You often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking several people to slow down, say something again, or talk louder. You might not even realize you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • You find it’s tough to understand particular words. This red flag often pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • 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 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 Time to Get a Hearing Exam

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

    Generally speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. What level of hearing impairment you may be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing assessment. Then it will become more obvious what needs to be done about it.

    This will make your next family gathering a lot easier and more fun.

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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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