Hearing loss is different from how we see it on television. The onset of impaired hearing is often a great deal subtler. It's not always going to be obvious that your ears are starting to go—which is why you need to recognize some of the most common flags.

The sooner you're able to identify the presence of hearing loss, the sooner you can receive treatment and the better your chances of preventing your hearing impairment from growing worse.

Certain Sounds are Intolerably Loud

It's easy to forget that hearing impairment doesn't always present as muffled or unclear sound. In actuality, one of the most common indicators that it's time to schedule an appointment with your audiologist is that certain noises have gotten so loud that they verge on painful. It's a condition known as hyperacusis—and it's not something you should ignore.

You Constantly Have to Ask People to Repeat Themselves

It's important to note that difficulty following conversation can be a symptom of many conditions other than hearing loss. However, if you find that you regularly have trouble keeping up when you're talking to people, something might be wrong with your ears. This is doubly true if it becomes more difficult when there's background noise. 

High-Pitched Noises Are Difficult to Hear

A ringing doorbell that completely escapes your attention. A squealing teapot that, for some reason, you're unable to hear. These are just a few examples of the high-frequency sounds that typically grow difficult to make out when your hearing starts to go. 

Your Ears Are Ringing Constantly

Is there a constant ringing, buzzing, clicking, or roaring in your ears? That's tinnitus—and while it's not always an indicator of hearing loss, it's frequently an early warning sign. A hearing test is your best chance to diagnose the cause, particularly given that tinnitus is often associated with other health issues. 

Talking on the Phone or Online is an Ordeal

Do you have trouble hearing what people are saying on the phone? Are Zoom calls an absolute nightmare, impossible to follow or understand? This is a very clear indication that you're experiencing hearing loss—especially if it's only certain words or phrases that give you trouble. 

When in Doubt, Get Your Hearing Tested

If you have any of the signs and symptoms above, you should schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. An appointment with a registered audiologist is the only way to know for certain whether or not your hearing is impaired and the severity of the impairment. And that aside, you should be scheduling regular hearing evaluations regardless.