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A man is unable to hear or see and is surrounded by question marks.

It may seem like it would be obvious, but hearing loss tends to be slow, so how can someone know if they have it? There is no darting pain to function as a danger sign. You don’t collapse or make unnecessary trips to the toilet when it occurs, either. It’s safe to say the signs of hearing loss are somewhat more subtle than other autoimmune disorders like diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Nevertheless, there are indicators if you know to look for them. It’s a matter of paying attention to how you hear and the impact any change could be having in your life. Take the time to consider the ways you can identify hearing loss for you or someone you care about.

A Shift in Communication

The impact on socialization provides some of the most telling indications. For instance, if the first thing out of your mouth through most conversations is “what?” That should be a sign you are not understanding words well. Asking the people that you talk to tell you again what they said is something they are likely to detect before you do, too, so pay attention to how people react to having a chat with you.

When speaking to a group of a couple of people, you might have difficulty keeping track of things. You’re missing bits of what everybody says, thus you are not connecting the dots anymore. You can’t ask everybody speaking to repeat themselves, either, so you just get lost. Over time, you hide from group discussions or stand there not listening to what’s stated, since it’s just too confusing once you do.

If all you hear nowadays is background sound, then it’s time to get a hearing exam. This is a frequent symptom of hearing loss since you are no longer able to filter out sounds like a fan blowing off or an air conditioner operating. It gets to the point where you can not hear what folks are saying to you because it becomes lost in the background sound.

The TV Creeps Up and Upward

It’s easy to blame the need to flip the TV volume up on this dying set because of a busy room, but if it occurs all the time, it is most likely a indication of gradual hearing loss. When everyone else starts telling you that you’ve got the TV or computer volume up too high, you should wonder why that is, and, likely, conclude that your hearing is not as good as it was once.

You End up Watching Their Lips

Lip reading is a coping mechanism for missed words. Gradual hearing loss starts with the loss of hard sounds. Words which contain specific letters will be incomplete. Your mind might automatically shift your attention to the person’s lips to repair the issue. It is likely that you won’t even know you do it before someone points it out or suddenly acts uncomfortable when talking with you.

You Hear Something Else

You may hear a clicking, ringing, or buzzing or the noise of breeze in your ears — medically that is called tinnitus, and it’s a indication of significant hearing loss. These sounds are not real, but phantom noises that just you hear. For some folks, they are just annoying, but for many others tinnitus is debilitating. If you’ve got that, then you surely have hearing loss you need to address.

Hearing problems are not always obvious to the person suffering from them, but it’s to others. Listen to what your loved ones are telling you about your hearing. Consider, too, other medical issues that may give rise to the problem such as hypertension or medication you take that could harm your ears and find out if age-related hearing loss runs in your family.

It’s like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. When you do come to this decision, see your health care provider and get a professional hearing test for affirmation. Hearing loss isn’t the end of the world, but for many, it will imply it is time to consider hearing aids.