Man with hearing loss trying to hear at the dinner table with his family.

The last time you had dinner with your family was a difficult experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a difficult time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any of your family members. The whole experience was extremely aggravating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing may be starting to go.

It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not advisable). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs show up, it’s most likely time to get your hearing checked.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But you might be going through some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.

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

  • You keep needing people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is especially true. You might not even realize you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s typically an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • 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 notice it. Early hearing loss is typically most recognizable in distinct (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you recognize the increasing volumes.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering 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.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand. These days, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we used to. But if you have the volume cranked 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.
  • Some words seem harder to hear than others. 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
  • You hear some ringing in your ears. Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily connected with hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.

Next Up: Get an Exam

You still can’t be certain whether you’re dealing with 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.

Generally speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be an indication that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. What level of hearing impairment you may be dealing with can only be established with a hearing assessment. Then it will become more evident what has to be done about it.

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

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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