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Your last family get together was frustrating. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any members of your family. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely ignore the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.

It isn’t typically recommended to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it usually isn’t possible. But there are some early warning signs you should keep your eye on. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get checked by a hearing professional.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But if you should find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just may be experiencing some amount of hearing loss.

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

  • You keep needing people to repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking several people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. You might not even realize you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is most likely in order.
  • You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot sometimes go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in particular (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to comprehend: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having trouble comprehending the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
  • You find it’s tough to comprehend particular words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • You have a tough time hearing conversations in a noisy or crowded place. In the “family dinner” illustration above, this exact thing occurred and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. This early warning sign is less prevalent, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud especially if it lasts for an extended period of time.
  • Someone notices that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or perhaps your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. In most cases, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.

It’s Time to Get a Hearing Examination

Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is fading: get a hearing test.

In general, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. A hearing examination will be able to tell what level of impairment, if any, exists. And then you’ll be better equipped to get the proper treatment.

This means your next family get together can be much more enjoyable.

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