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Your last family dinner was discouraging. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). The issue was the noise, which was making it hard to 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 can’t totally ignore the possibility that perhaps your hearing is starting to go bad.

It isn’t typically advisable 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. If some of these warning signs develop, 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 if you happen to find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just might be going through some level of hearing loss.

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

  • High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Particular frequencies (often high pitched) will usually be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
  • When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s typically an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • You notice some ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is most likely in order.
  • You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to talk louder, repeat what they said, or slow down when they talk, this is especially true. Often, you might not even acknowledge how often this is happening and you may miss this red flag.
  • Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
  • You find that certain sounds become intolerably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might 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 difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to comprehend: Nowadays, due to texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. But if you’re having trouble comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be facing another red flag for your hearing.
  • Next Up: Get a Test

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

    You may very well be experiencing some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing evaluation. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the best treatment.

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

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