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 hard experience. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any of your family members. The whole experience was incredibly aggravating. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to admit that your hearing may be starting to wane.

It isn’t typically recommended to try to self diagnose hearing loss because it generally isn’t possible. But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. If some of these warning signs develop, it’s probably time to have your hearing checked.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Some of the signs of hearing loss are subtle. But you may be experiencing some amount of hearing loss if you find yourself recognizing some of these signs.

Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:

  • You find it’s difficult to understand particular words. This red flag frequently pops up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming harder to differentiate. Normally, 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 difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while without your knowledge. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Distinct frequencies (often high pitched) will typically be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
  • You notice that some sounds become unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If specific sounds become intolerably loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • It’s suddenly very difficult to understand phone calls: 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 difficulty comprehending the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be dealing with another red flag for your hearing.
  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at full volume. Usually, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a member of your family that makes you aware of the escalating volumes.
  • You keep needing people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself repeatedly asking people to talk louder, repeat what they said, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. Sometimes, you may not even acknowledge how often this is happening and you might miss this red flag.
  • You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if your ears are ringing, a hearing exam is most likely in order.
  • Next Up: Take a Examination

    Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you may experience, 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 noticing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing impairment you may be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing examination. Then it will become more obvious what needs to be done about it.

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