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The last time you ate dinner with your family was a difficult experience. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any members of your family. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t completely dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.

It’s not generally recommended to try 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 surface, it’s most likely time to get your hearing checked.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Some of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be dealing with some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself detecting some of these signs.

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

  • Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • You notice it’s tough to understand certain words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: These days, because of texting, we use the phone a lot less than we 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.
  • When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. In the “family dinner” example above, this exact thing occurred and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
  • High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is usually most noticeable in distinct (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If distinct sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to speak up, repeat what they said, or slow down when they talk, this is particularly true. You might not even realize you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • Next Up: Get a Test

    You still can’t be certain whether you’re dealing with hearing loss even if you are encountering some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing examination to know for sure.

    You may very well be experiencing some level of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be established with a hearing test. 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 fun.

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