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Your last family get together was discouraging. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was boisterous, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was frustrating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing may be starting to wane.

It’s not generally recommended to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But there are a few early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing specialist.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Some of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be going through some degree of hearing loss.

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

  • You hear some that your ears are ringing: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always connected with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
  • Someone makes you realize that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile device. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at max volume. In most cases, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go undetected for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is usually most recognizable in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: These days, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we used to. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you might be facing another red flag for your hearing.
  • You notice that some sounds become intolerably loud. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If particular sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • 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 speak up. You might not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • Some 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 have a difficult time hearing interactions in a noisy or crowded place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
  • It’s Time to Get a Hearing Exam

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

    You could very well be going through some level of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing assessment will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the best treatment.

    This means your next family gathering can be far more enjoyable.

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