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Your last family dinner was discouraging. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always some of that). No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. The whole experience was extremely aggravating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.

It can be very challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs surface, it’s most likely time to have your hearing examined.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Some of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be dealing with some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.

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

  • You notice some that your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if your ears are ringing, a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • It’s suddenly very hard to comprehend phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, 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 trouble hearing calls, it’s most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
  • You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s typically an early sign of hearing problems.
  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Or perhaps your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while and you didn’t hear it. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is typically most recognizable in distinct (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign frequently appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. 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 often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to talk louder, repeat what they said, or slow down when they talk, this is particularly true. You might not even notice you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • You notice that certain sounds become intolerably loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs associated with loss of hearing, 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.
  • It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination

    You still can’t be certain whether you’re confronting 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.

    Broadly speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing test. Then it will become more obvious what needs to be done about it.

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

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