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Your last family dinner was disheartening. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. The problem was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity 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 wane.

It’s not typically advisable to attempt 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 develop, 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 if you happen to find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just might be dealing with some level of hearing loss.

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

  • It’s suddenly very difficult to comprehend phone calls: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
  • Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This red flag often pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder 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
  • You have a hard time following interactions in a crowded or noisy place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s typically an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • You often need 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 may not even realize you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot frequently go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Distinct frequencies (frequently high pitched) will typically be the first to go with early hearing loss.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to hearing loss, 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 experience some that your ears are ringing: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if your ears are ringing, a hearing exam is most likely in order.
  • Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
  • Next Up: Get a Test

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

    Broadly speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be an indication that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing assessment 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 will make your next family get together a lot easier and more enjoyable.

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