How Can I Tell if I’m Suffering From Hearing Loss?

Woman sitting on a grey couch gazing out the window wondering if she has hearing loss.

The last time you had dinner with family, you were pretty frustrated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always a little bit of that). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s raise, and you didn’t have the ability to ask about Todd’s new puppy. It was difficult. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t entirely dismiss the idea that maybe your hearing is starting to fail.

It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely difficult to do. But there are some early red flags you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing test.

Hearing loss’s early signs

Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is obvious. But you may be experiencing hearing loss if you can connect with any of the items on this list.

Here are some of the most common early signs of hearing loss:

  • High-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or perhaps, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally impacts specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
  • It’s suddenly very hard to make out phone calls: Texting is popular nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
  • A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps the volume on your mobile phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Normally, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your kids, possibly your neighbor, or your friends.
  • You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. You may not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • You hear ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). If you experience ringing or other chronic sounds in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health problems.
  • Specific words are hard to understand. This symptom occurs when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
  • When you’re in a busy loud place, you have trouble hearing conversations. This is frequently an early sign of hearing loss.
  • You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. You may or may not encounter this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become unbearably loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t go away in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.

Next up: Take a test

You might have one or more of these early warnings but the only real way to determine the health of your hearing is to get a hearing assessment.

In general, any single one of these early red flags could indicate that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what degree of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the level of hearing loss, we can figure out the best course of treatment.

This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.

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.