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The last time you had dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was irritating. 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 usually isn’t possible. But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs appear, it’s probably time to get your hearing checked.

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 may be experiencing some level of hearing loss.

Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:

  • When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. This is precisely what occurred during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: Today, because of texting, we use the phone a lot less than we used to. But if you’re having difficulty comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be facing another red flag for your hearing.
  • Someone makes you realize that you keep turning the volume up. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile device. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you recognize the escalating volumes.
  • You notice some ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically called tinnitus. 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.
  • 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 encountering its symptoms. If distinct sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • You notice it’s tough to comprehend certain words. This red flag often pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
  • You often need 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 regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your teapot has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in distinct (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination

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

    You might very well be going through some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing impairment you may be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing test. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the best treatment.

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

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