How Can I Tell if I Have 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 quite frustrated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the cause of the frustration was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t get the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Todd’s new puppy. And that was really annoying. Mostly, you blame the acoustics. But you can’t totally dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is beginning to fail.

It’s not usually 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 warning signs pop up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing exam.

Hearing loss’s early signs

The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to see your own situation reflected in any of the items on the following list, you just may be experiencing some level of hearing loss.

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

  • It’s suddenly very challenging to understand phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not talk on the phone as much as you used to. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
  • You often need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself asking numerous people to talk slower, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is particularly true. This early sign of hearing impairment could be occurring without you even noticing.
  • You have a hard time hearing conversations in a busy or noisy location. This is often an early sign of hearing loss.
  • Specific words are hard to understand. This red flag frequently pops up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming more difficult to differentiate. Normally, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are garbled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds become confused.
  • You hear ringing in your ears: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing issues, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably in order.
  • You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Perhaps 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. Hearing loss usually impacts specific frequencies usually higher pitched frequencies.
  • You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. If you are experiencing this issue, particularly if it persists, it’s time for a hearing exam.
  • Somebody observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your cell phone. Or perhaps, you have your TV volume cranked up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.

Get a hearing exam

No matter how many of these early red flags you might experience, there’s really only one way to know, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing test.

You might be dealing with hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment exists, a hearing assessment will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we discover the degree 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 gathering.

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.