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The last time you ate dinner with your family was a difficult experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was boisterous, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any of your family members. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.

It’s not generally advisable to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But there are a few early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags surface, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get checked by a hearing specialist.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But you might be dealing with some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself recognizing some of these signs.

Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:

  • Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you recognize the escalating volumes.
  • You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is especially true. You may not even notice you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • When you’re in a loud 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.
  • You find that certain sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might 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.
  • You notice it’s difficult to comprehend certain words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. 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
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to understand: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having trouble comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
  • You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is usually most recognizable in distinct (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, 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.
  • Next Up: Take a Examination

    No matter how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is fading: get a hearing test.

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

    This means your next family gathering can be a great deal more enjoyable.

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