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

Your last family dinner was frustrating. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. The issue was the noise, which was making it difficult to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any members of your family. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that perhaps 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 keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs show up, it’s probably time to have your hearing tested.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But you could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.

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

  • When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing occurred and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
  • You notice it’s difficult to understand particular words. This red flag often pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. 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.
  • You keep needing people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, repeat what they said, or talk louder. You might not even recognize you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If particular sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • You have problems hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell frequently go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Particular frequencies (often high pitched) will usually be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: Nowadays, due to texting, we use the phone a lot less than we used to. But if you’re having problems understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of screeching, thumping, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily linked to hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
  • Next Up: Get a Examination

    No matter how many of these early warning signs you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.

    You could very well be experiencing some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing test will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better equipped to get the right treatment.

    This will make your next family get together a lot easier and more fun.

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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.

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