People often take years before they realize that they have a hearing problem since hearing loss is a gradual process that develops over time. It is important to familiarize yourself with the early warning signs that can help identify hearing loss so that it can be treated in a timely manner.
During the initial stages of hearing loss, you may have trouble hearing regular sounds around the house, such as the ringing of a doorbell or telephone, someone calling your name out loud from the next room, or the dialogues on the television.
Due to hearing loss you may be tempted to turn up the volume on your television or cellphone to the maximum level and still have trouble making out speech. If you find yourself constantly asking people to repeat themselves during face to face conversations or over the telephone, you might have hearing loss.
Some people experience a ringing sensation in the ears as a result of damage to the ears or a condition known as tinnitus, which can be a precursor to hearing loss. It is important to get your hearing checked if this is the case to make sure there is no serious injury to the ears and to make sure you get this condition treated before it worsens.
If you find yourself commonly misinterpreting what is being said in a conversation, you may be suffering from hearing loss. Consonants in particular are more difficult to make out with hearing loss as opposed to vowels, since consonants tend to have a higher pitch than vowels. You may find that there are gaps in your conversations where you are unable to make out certain words and often resort to guesswork to understand the gist of the conversation. Additionally, you may have trouble hearing high pitched voices.
People with hearing loss have trouble making out speech when their back is turned to the speaker during a conversation. This is because people unconsciously develop coping mechanisms to deal with hearing loss, so you may inadvertently be resorting to lip reading and interpreting nonverbal modes of communication, which is not possible to decipher if your back is turned.
Hearing loss can make speech interpretation particularly difficult in situations where there is a good amount of background noise. If you find that you have trouble hearing when there are loud noises in the background such as when the dishwasher, blender, or music is on you may have hearing loss. Crowded surroundings such as restaurants, sporting events or rock concerts can also lead to difficulties in conversation for those with hearing loss.
The most obvious sign of hearing loss is when someone tells you directly. This may be in the form of complaining that the volume on your television is much too loud. If people need to yell or raise their voice to make themselves heard, you might have a hearing problem. Get your hearing tested periodically to ensure that you take care of your hearing needs before they progress into severe hearing loss.