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.

Your last family dinner was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family drama (this time). No, the source of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new job. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are the problem. But you have to acknowledge that it may be an issue with your hearing.

It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s extremely difficult to do. But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough of these warning signs spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing exam.

Early signs of hearing impairment

Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is evident. But if you happen to see your own experiences reflected in any of the items on this list, you just might be experiencing some degree of hearing loss.

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

  • Normal sounds seem oppressively loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs associated with hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are experiencing this problem, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
  • You often need people to repeat what they said. This is particularly true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. You may not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). If you have 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 issues.
  • You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a busy or noisy setting. This is frequently an early indication of hearing loss.
  • You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for five minutes but you didn’t notice it. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: You may not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting fairly often. But you might be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having trouble understanding the calls you do take.
  • Specific words are difficult to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become hard to hear and differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • A friend points out that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Maybe you keep turning up the volume on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.

Get a hearing assessment

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 test.

In general, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing loss. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the correct treatment.

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

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.