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“Man

Your last family get together was discouraging. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always some of that). The issue was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any members of your family. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing might be starting to go.

It’s not generally advisable to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags surface, it’s worth making an appointment to get checked by a hearing professional.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But if you happen to find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be experiencing some level of hearing loss.

Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:

  • You notice it’s hard to comprehend particular words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • You keep needing people to repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking several people to slow down, repeat what they said, or talk louder. Often, you may not even acknowledge how frequently this is occurring and you might miss this warning sign.
  • You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your teapot has been whistling for five minutes and you didn’t hear it. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is typically most recognizable in particular (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs linked to hearing loss, 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.
  • You have a tough time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
  • It’s suddenly very difficult to comprehend phone calls: Today, due to texting, we use the phone a lot less than we used to. But if you’re having problems comprehending the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
  • Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at max volume. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you aware of the increasing volumes.
  • You notice some 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 always connected with hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • Next Up: Get a Exam

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

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

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