Woman sitting on a grey couch gazing out the window wondering if she has hearing loss.

Your last family get-together was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new dog. It was difficult. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.

It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not suggested). But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough of these warning signs pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.

Hearing loss’s early signs

Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on this list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.

Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:

  • Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. If you have ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health issues.
  • Specific words are hard to understand. This red flag frequently shows up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
  • Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, keep in mind that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
  • It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: Texting is popular nowadays, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be confronting another red flag for your hearing.
  • You have a hard time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy location. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early signal of trouble with hearing.
  • Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • You keep asking people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally affects particular frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.

Get a hearing test

No matter how many of these early red flags you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing exam.

You may be dealing with hearing loss if you are noticing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing examination will be able to identify how bad it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the correct treatment.

This means your next family gathering can be much 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.