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The last time you ate dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was boisterous, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any of your family members. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally ignore the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.

It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags emerge, it’s worth making an appointment to get checked by a hearing specialist.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Several of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be dealing with some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself detecting some of these signs.

Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:

  • There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically named tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is most likely in order.
  • High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you find your teapot has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Particular frequencies (frequently high pitched) will usually be the first to go with early hearing loss.
  • You have a difficult time making out conversations in a noisy or crowded place. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s typically an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs related to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
  • 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 commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
  • You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking several people to slow down, repeat what they said, or speak up. Sometimes, you might not even notice how frequently this is occurring and you might miss this warning sign.
  • Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or maybe your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. In most cases, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to understand: Nowadays, due to texting, we use the phone much less than we used to. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
  • Next Up: Take a Exam

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

    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 loss you may be dealing with can only be established with a hearing test. Then it will become more clear what needs to be done about it.

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

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