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

You’d think the change would be evident, but hearing loss tends to be slow, so how does one know they have it? There is no sharp pain to serve as a warning signal. You do not pass out or make a few more trips to the bathroom once it happens, either. It is safe to say the symptoms of hearing loss are more subtle than other age-related illnesses like diabetes or heart disease.

Nevertheless, there are indications should you know what to look for. It is a matter of paying attention to the way you hear and the effect any change might be having in your life. Take the time to consider the ways you can pinpoint hearing loss for you or someone you care about.

A Shift in Speech

The impact on socializing provides some of the most telling signs. As an example, if the first word from your mouth during most discussions is “what?” That should be a sign you are not comprehending words easily. Questioning people that you talk to tell you again what they said is something they’re very likely to detect before you do, too, so listen to how folks respond to having conversations with you.

When speaking to a group of a couple of individuals, you might have difficulty keeping track of things. You are missing parts of what everybody says, thus you are not part of the conversation. You can’t ask everyone talking to repeat themselves, either, so you only get lost. Over time, you limit group conversations or stand there not listening to what is stated, because it’s just too confusing once you do.

The Background Noise Takes Over

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

The TV Goes Up and Up

It’s easy to blame the need to flip the TV volume up on this tired box because of a busy area, but when it happens every day, it’s probably a sign of gradual hearing loss. When everybody else starts telling you that you have the TV or computer volume up too high, you need to wonder why that is, and, likely, conclude that your hearing isn’t like it had been once.

You End up Seeing Their Mouth

Lip reading is a compensation technique for missing words. Gradual hearing loss begins with the reduction of tough sounds. Words which contain specific letters will probably be incomplete. Your brain might automatically refocus your eyes onto the person’s lips to fix the issue. Chances are you do not even know you do it until somebody points it out or unexpectedly acts uncomfortable when speaking to you.

Then There is the Clicking

It can be a ringing, clicking or buzzing or the noise of wind in your ears — medically this is called tinnitus, and it is a sign of significant hearing loss. These sounds aren’t real, but phantom noises that just you hear. For many folks, they are only annoying, but for others tinnitus is debilitating. If you’ve got that, then you most surely have hearing loss that you need to address.

Hearing problems aren’t 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, also, other medical issues that can contribute to this problem like hypertension or medication you take that can harm your ears and find out if age-related hearing loss is a hereditary problem for you.

If you do come to this decision, see your doctor and receive a professional hearing test for affirmation. Hearing loss is not the worst health issue you could have, but for many, it does mean it’s time to consider hearing aids.