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Man with hearing loss trying to hear at the dinner table with his family.

The last time you had dinner with your family was a difficult 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 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 puppy. The whole experience was extremely aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing might be starting to go.

It isn’t typically recommended to attempt to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. But there are some early warning signs you should keep your eye on. When enough of these red flags emerge, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get checked by a hearing specialist.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is noticeable. But you could be dealing with some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself detecting some of these signs.

Some of the most common early signs of hearing impairment may include:

  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile device. Possibly it’s your TV that’s at max volume. In most cases, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • You have a hard time following interactions in a crowded or noisy place. In the “family dinner” illustration above, this exact thing occurred and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
  • You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is normally most noticeable in particular (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • You find it’s hard to understand 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 frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or talk louder. Often, you may not even acknowledge how often this is occurring and you may miss this red flag.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering 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.
  • 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 once did. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having trouble hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: This ringing, which can also be the sound of thumping, screeching, buzzing, or other noises, is technically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily related to hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test

    Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you might experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.

    You might 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 loss you may be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing examination. And then you’ll be better equipped to get the correct treatment.

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

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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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