Woman sitting on a grey couch gazing out the window wondering if she has hearing loss.

The last time you had dinner with family, you were rather aggravated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the problem was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new job. And that was really irritating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. But you have to admit that it might be a problem with your hearing.

It’s not usually recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s truly challenging to do. But there are some early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing exam.

Hearing loss’s early signs

Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is noticeable. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on this list, you just could be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.

Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:

  • Certain words are hard to understand. This red flag often pops up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another common example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
  • You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other sounds too) is called tinnitus. If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing loss, can also indicate other health issues.
  • When you’re in a busy loud setting, you have trouble following conversations. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s frequently an early indication of trouble with hearing.
  • You often need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing impairment may be occurring without you even noticing.
  • High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you just noticed your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Hearing loss usually impacts particular frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
  • Somebody notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your cell phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
  • You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you once did because you use texting fairly often. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.

Next up: Take a test

You may have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to know the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.

In general, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we discover the level of hearing loss, we can determine the best course of treatment.

This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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