How do I Know if I Have Hearing Loss?

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

Your last family dinner was disheartening. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). 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. It was difficult. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you have to admit that it may be an issue with your hearing.

It’s not generally recommended to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing assessment.

Hearing loss’s early signs

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

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

  • You notice ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other noises too: humming, buzzing, screeching, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing problems, but it is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • Specific words are difficult to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become difficult 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 become confused.
  • You keep asking people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking numerous people to speak slower, talk louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. You might not even realize you’re making such frequent requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of hearing impairment.
  • You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a busy or noisy location. This is often an early sign of hearing loss.
  • Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. It’s one of the more unusual early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. If you are experiencing this issue, especially if it lingers, it’s time for a hearing exam.
  • High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you don’t notice it. Early hearing loss is usually most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • A friend notices that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep turning the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that notices the loud volumes.
  • You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: Texting is popular these days, so you may 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 confronting another red flag for your hearing.

Next up: Take a exam

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

Generally speaking, any single one of these early red flags could be evidence that you’re developing some type of hearing impairment. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing examination will be able to tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the best 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.