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“Man

Your last family get together was frustrating. It wasn’t because your family was having a tough time getting along. No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t hear the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Jay’s new cat. 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 could be starting to go.

It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, typically, it’s not recommended). But there are some early warning signs you should keep your eye on. If some of these warning signs appear, it’s probably time to get your hearing checked.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. 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 amount of hearing loss.

Some of the most prevalent early signs of bad hearing might include:

  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs related to loss of hearing, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If particular sounds become unbearably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
  • Someone notices that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or maybe your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • You have problems hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell sometimes go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is usually most noticeable in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking several people to slow down, repeat what they said, or speak up. Often, you might not even acknowledge how often this is happening and you might miss this red flag.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: Nowadays, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we 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 most likely an early warning of hearing loss.
  • You notice it’s hard to understand certain words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. 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
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • Next Up: Take 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 your hearing tested.

    You may very well be experiencing some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. A hearing evaluation will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, is present. And then you’ll be better equipped to find the correct treatment.

    This means your next family gathering can be much more enjoyable.

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