Do You Need a Hearing Test? Here’s What You Should Know

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

The last time you ate 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 boisterous, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you weren’t able to have very much meaningful conversation with any members of your family. It was frustrating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t entirely ignore the possibility that perhaps your hearing is beginning to go bad.

It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Several of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you should find your own experiences reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be going through some degree of hearing loss.

Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:

  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering 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.
  • You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Things like a whistling teapot or ringing doorbell frequently go undetected for several minutes or more. Distinct frequencies (frequently high pitched) will usually be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
  • You have a difficult time making out interactions in a noisy or crowded place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s typically an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • Phone calls suddenly seem muffled and difficult to understand: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. 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 keep asking people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. You may not even recognize you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • Certain words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign often appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if your ears are ringing, a hearing test is probably in order.
  • Someone makes you realize that you keep turning the volume up. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you recognize the escalating volumes.
  • Next Up: Take a Test

    You still can’t be certain whether you’re dealing with hearing loss even if you are experiencing some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing test to know for sure.

    In general, even one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. What level of hearing impairment you might be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing evaluation. Then it will become more clear what has to be done about it.

    This will make your next family get together a lot easier and more enjoyable.

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