Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

Man with hearing loss trying to hear at the dinner table with his family.

The last time you had dinner with your family was a difficult experience. Not because of any intra-family drama (though there’s always a little bit of that). The issue was the noise, which was making it hard to hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Nancy’s promotion, and you didn’t have a chance to ask about Jay’s new puppy. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing could be starting to go.

It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not advisable). But you should keep your eye out for some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags emerge, it’s worth making an appointment to get tested by a hearing professional.

Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Several of the indications of hearing loss are subtle. But if you happen to find yourself noticing any of the items on the following list, you just might be experiencing some level of hearing loss.

Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:

  • You have problems hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while and you didn’t hear it. Or perhaps the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Early hearing loss is normally most apparent in particular (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to talk louder, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is particularly true. You might not even notice you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • You find it’s hard to understand certain words. When consonants become hard to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
  • Someone makes you realize that you keep turning the volume up. Perhaps you keep turning up the volume on your mobile device. Maybe it’s your TV that’s at full volume. In most cases, you’re not the one that notices the loud volume, it’s your kids, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • When you’re in a noisy crowded place, conversations tend to get lost. In the “family dinner” example above, this specific thing occurred and it’s definitely an early warning sign.
  • It’s suddenly very hard to comprehend phone calls: Nowadays, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. But if you have the volume turned all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself experiencing its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
  • There’s a ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is called tinnitus (and, actually, tinnitus can be other sounds too: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing test is most likely in order.
  • It’s Time to Get a Hearing Exam

    Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you might encounter, there’s really only one way to recognize, with certainty, whether your hearing is fading: get a hearing test.

    You might very well be going through some amount of hearing loss even if you’re only experiencing one of these early warning signs. What level of hearing loss you might be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing assessment. And then you’ll be better equipped to get the best treatment.

    This will make your next family get together a lot smoother and more enjoyable.

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    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.
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