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 hard time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any members of your family. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing could be starting to wane.

It’s not typically recommended to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. But there are a few early warning signs you should keep your eye on. If some of these warning signs develop, it’s probably time to have your hearing checked.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But if you should find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just might be experiencing some amount of hearing loss.

Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:

  • 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. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, repeat what they said, or talk louder. Often, you may not even recognize how often this is occurring and you might miss this red flag.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: Nowadays, due to texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. 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.
  • You have a difficult time following conversations in a crowded or noisy place. In the “family dinner” example above, this exact thing occurred and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
  • You find that certain sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may 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. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell frequently go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Specific frequencies (frequently high pitched) will typically be the first to go with early hearing loss.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily related to hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets 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 family member that makes you recognize the increasing volumes.
  • Next Up: Take a Examination

    Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you may encounter, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.

    Broadly speaking, even one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Then it will become more obvious what needs 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.
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