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

You may think it’d be evident, but hearing loss tends to be gradual, so how can one know they have it? There’s no sharp pain to serve as a warning signal. You don’t pass out or make additional trips to the restroom once it happens, either. It’s safe to say the symptoms of hearing loss are more subtle than other autoimmune disorders like diabetes or heart disease.

Nevertheless, there are indications should you know to look for them. It is a matter of paying attention to how you hear and the effect any change might be having in your life. Consider the ways you’re able to identify hearing loss for you or somebody you care about.

A Change in Conversation

The impact on socializing offers a number of the most telling signs. For instance, if the first thing from your mouth during most discussions is “what?” That should be a sign you are not understanding words easily. Asking the people you talk to tell you again what they said is something they are very likely to detect before you do, too, so pay attention to the way folks respond to having a chat with you.

When speaking to a group of two or more people, you might have trouble following along. You’re missing bits of what each person says, thus you aren’t connecting the dots anymore. You can’t ask everybody talking to echo themselves, either, so you just get lost. As time passes, you avoid group discussions or stand there not understanding what’s stated, because it’s just too confusing once you do.

The Background Noise Drowns Everything Out

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

The TV Goes Up and Upward

It is easy to blame the need to flip the TV volume up on that dying box because of a busy area, but when it happens every day, it is probably an indication of gradual hearing loss. When everyone else starts complaining that you have the TV or computer volume up too high, you should wonder why this really is, and, probably, come to terms with the fact that your hearing isn’t as good as it was at one time.

You End up Watching Their Lips

Lip reading is a coping mechanism for missed words. Gradual hearing loss begins with the loss of tough sounds. Words that contain certain letters will be incomplete. Your brain might automatically shift your eyes to the person’s lips to fix the problem. Chances are you do not even know you do it until somebody points it out or suddenly looks uncomfortable when speaking to you.

Then There’s the Clicking

It can be a ringing, clicking or buzz or the noise of breeze in your ears — that is called tinnitus, and it is a sign of significant hearing loss. These sounds are not real, but phantom sounds that only you hear. For many people, they are only annoying, but for others tinnitus is debilitating. If you have that, then you most surely have hearing loss that you will need to address.

Hearing problems are not always evident to the person suffering from them, but it’s to others. Listen to what your family is telling you about your hearing loss. Consider, too, other medical problems that may contribute to the problem such as high blood pressure or medication you take that could damage your ears and discover if age-related hearing loss is a hereditary problem you should be worried about.

It’s like assembling the pieces of a puzzle. If you do come to this decision, visit your doctor and get a professional hearing test for affirmation. Hearing loss isn’t a catastrophe, but for most, it will mean it is time to consider hearing aids.