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Your last family get together was discouraging. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any members of your family. It was frustrating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally discount the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to go bad.

It isn’t generally advisable to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

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

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

  • You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking several people to slow down, repeat what they said, or talk louder. You may not even recognize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • You have a hard time following interactions in a crowded or noisy place. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering 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.
  • Someone makes you aware that you keep turning up the volume on your media. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other sounds, is technically named tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • High pitched sounds are difficult to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Distinct frequencies (frequently high pitched) will typically be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: People do a lot of texting nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
  • Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign frequently pops up because consonants are starting to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds

Next Up: Take a Exam

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

You might very well be going through some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only noticing one of these early warning signs. A hearing test will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. Then it will become more evident what has to be done about it.

This will make your next family gathering a lot easier and more enjoyable.

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