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The last time you ate dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Todd’s new puppy. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing could be starting to wane.

It isn’t generally recommended to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. But there are some early warning signs you should keep your eye on. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get tested by a hearing specialist.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Several of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just might be going through some level of hearing loss.

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

  • You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus is often 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.
  • You have a tough time hearing interactions in a noisy or crowded place. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s typically an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • You keep asking 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 may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: Today, because of texting, we use the phone a lot less than we 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 facing another red flag for your hearing.
  • You notice it’s difficult to comprehend particular words. This warning sign frequently 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. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
  • You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot sometimes go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at full volume. In most cases, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • It’s Time to Get a Hearing Exam

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

    You may very well be experiencing some level of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing examination will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the correct treatment.

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

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