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Your last family get together was discouraging. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Todd’s new cat. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.

It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not advisable). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs develop, it’s probably time to get your hearing checked.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Some of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.

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

  • You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they talk, this is particularly true. You might not even notice you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • Someone makes you aware that you keep turning the volume up. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you aware of the increasing volumes.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If specific sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t necessarily associated with hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • You have a hard time making out interactions in a noisy or crowded place. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume cranked all the way up), you may be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
  • You notice it’s difficult to comprehend certain words. 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 commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
  • You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your teapot has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Specific frequencies (often high pitched) will typically be the first to go with early hearing loss.
  • It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test

    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.

    In general, any single one of these early warning signs could be an indication that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be established with a hearing assessment. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the right treatment.

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

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