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The last time you had dinner with your family was a hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Jay’s new cat. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t completely dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.

It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But there are a few early warning signs you should keep your eye on. If some of these warning signs develop, it’s most likely time to get your hearing checked.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But if you happen to find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be dealing with some level of hearing loss.

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

  • You have a tough time following interactions in a noisy or crowded place. In the “family dinner” illustration above, this specific thing happened and it’s certainly an early warning sign.
  • Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. 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 member of your family that makes you aware of the increasing volumes.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and hard to comprehend: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
  • High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell frequently go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This red flag often pops up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also commonly be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
  • You often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking several people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud especially if it lasts for an extended period of time.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always linked to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
  • Next Up: Take a Examination

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

    In general, even one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. A hearing test will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the right treatment.

    This means your next family get together can be much more enjoyable.

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