How do I Know 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 get-together 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 irritating. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are to blame. But you have to acknowledge that it may be an issue with your hearing.

It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But you should watch for certain warnings. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth making an appointment to get a hearing assessment.

Hearing loss’s early signs

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

Some of the most common initial signs of hearing loss could include:

  • You hear ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises as well: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). If you have ringing or other chronic noises in your ears, a hearing test is your best bet because tinnitus, though it’s often an early warning of hearing loss, can also point to other health problems.
  • It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: You may not talk on the phone as often as you used to because you use texting pretty often. But you may be encountering another early warning sign if you’re having difficulty understanding the calls you do take.
  • You frequently 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 might not even know you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, be aware that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If particular sounds become oppressively loud (especially if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that may be an early hearing loss symptom.
  • Certain words are hard to understand. This warning sign often pops up because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or at least, becoming harder to differentiate. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most common examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
  • High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you just realized your teapot was screeching after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even hear the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is normally most noticeable in specific (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • When you’re in a crowded noisy setting, you have difficulty following conversations. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early sign of trouble with hearing.
  • A friend notices that your media devices are getting progressively louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your mobile phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Normally, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.

Next up: Take a exam

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

You may be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. A hearing assessment will be able to reveal what level of impairment, if any, exists. Once we identify the degree of hearing loss, we can determine 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.