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.

Your last family get-together was frustrating. It wasn’t because of family crisis (this time). No, the issue was that you couldn’t hear anything over the loud noise of the room. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. And that was really annoying. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are to blame. But you can’t entirely dismiss the idea that perhaps your hearing is beginning to fail.

It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not suggested). But you should keep your eye out for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to call us for a hearing test.

Early signs of hearing impairment

The majority of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you might be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.

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

  • High-pitched sounds are getting lost. Perhaps you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or maybe, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Hearing loss generally affects specific frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
  • 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 once did because you use texting pretty often. But if you’re having trouble understanding the phone calls you do receive (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
  • You have a difficult time following conversations in a busy or noisy place. This is exactly what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early indication of trouble with hearing.
  • Certain words are hard to understand. This red flag frequently pops up because consonants are beginning to sound alike, or at least, becoming harder to distinguish. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. Sometimes, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • Your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, 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 frequently an early warning of hearing impairment, can also indicate other health problems.
  • Normal sounds seem unbearably loud. You may or may not experience this but if you do, keep in mind that it can be an early warning of hearing loss. If specific sounds become oppressively loud (especially if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
  • You keep requesting that people repeat themselves. This is particularly true if you’re asking numerous people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing impairment may be occurring without you even noticing.
  • A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Maybe you keep turning the volume up on your cell phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are maxed out. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.

Next up: Take a exam

No matter how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is diminishing: get a hearing test.

In general, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing assessment will be able to identify how bad it is. Once we discover the level 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 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.