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 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 boisterous noise of the room. So you didn’t get the chance to ask about Dave’s new cat or Sally’s new career. It was difficult. You try to play it off as if the acoustics of the room are the problem. 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 extremely difficult to do. But there are some early warning signs you should keep on your radar. When enough of these red flags pop up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get a hearing assessment.

Early signs of hearing loss

Not every symptom and sign of hearing loss is evident. But you might be experiencing hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.

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

  • You keep asking people to repeat themselves. If you find yourself asking multiple people to talk more slowly, speak louder, or repeat what they said, this is especially true. This early sign of hearing loss may be happening without you even noticing.
  • You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: People do a lot of texting these days, so you may not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you’re having trouble 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.
  • You find that some sounds become 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 specific sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t resolve itself in short order), that could be an early hearing loss indicator.
  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices gets louder and louder. Perhaps you keep cranking up the volume on your cell phone. Or perhaps, your TV speakers are as loud as they go. Typically, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
  • Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always associated with hearing problems, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you just realized your teapot was whistling after five minutes. Or perhaps, you never even notice the doorbell ringing. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in particular (and often high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
  • When you’re in a crowded noisy place, you have difficulty hearing conversations. This is often an early indication of hearing loss.
  • Certain words are hard to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become hard to hear and distinguish. The “sh” and “th” sounds are the most prevalent examples. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.

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 test.

In general, any single one of these early warning signs could indicate that you’re developing some kind of hearing impairment. And if any impairment exists, a hearing evaluation will be able to identify how bad it is. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the correct 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.