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The last time you had dinner with your family was a hard experience. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new cat. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t completely ignore the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.

It isn’t generally recommended to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags surface, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Several of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be experiencing 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:

  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If specific sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you find your teapot has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Early hearing loss is typically most recognizable in distinct (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • 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 turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having trouble hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
  • Someone makes you aware that you keep turning the volume up. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat what they said, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. Sometimes, you may not even recognize how frequently this is happening and you may miss this red flag.
  • You have a difficult time making out conversations in a noisy or crowded place. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing happened and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
  • Certain words seem harder to hear than others. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • It’s Time to Get a Hearing Exam

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

    You could very well be experiencing some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing impairment you might be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing assessment. Then it will become more evident what needs to be done about it.

    This will make your next family gathering a lot smoother and more enjoyable.

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