Some health conditions come on suddenly, such as a stroke or a heart attack. Others are stealthier, but are important to recognize because they impact on life. Hearing loss is one such a problem.

Gradual onset hearing loss can sneak in gradually. As we adapt to cope with subtle changes in the ability to hear, it’s more likely that the people around you are more aware of the problem than you.

Take a look at the following and see what resonates with you. Remember, these are all signs that a hearing test is a good idea, so you can catch the problem early and correct it.

#1: You say “what?” a lot

Monitor what you say and see if the word “what?” pops up a lot. While it’s fair enough to say “what?” when you partner is giving instructions from the end of the yard, it’s not so hot if they’re standing right next to you.

Asking people to repeat themselves a lot is a ‘tell’ that your brain isn’t getting the auditory information it needs in order to process what’s been said.

#2: Women seem to whisper

Do you have a specific problem hearing women or children?

Hearing loss often impacts first on our ability to hear high pitched sounds, such as the female voice or children. If this sounds familiar then a hearing test is a good idea.

#3: People mutter more

Ever notice how people don’t enunciate clearly anymore?

Actually, the problem might not be them, but with you not being able to hear what’s being said.

#4: Misunderstandings

Do you misinterpret what’s been said?

When you regularly mistake, “What do you think of that?” for “Have you seen my cat?” then consider hearing loss as the culprit. When you don’t hear well the brain works hard to make sense of what it does hear and fill in the gaps as best it can. The result can be comical and embarrassing, but more seriously is a sign a hearing test is a good idea.

#5: Last to get the joke

How is your hearing in group conversations?

If everyone else is laughing at the joke while you’re still struggling to make sense of what’s been said, then question your hearing. Likewise, if you always seem to be one step behind what’s been said, and the conversation has moved on before you’ve framed a reply, then it could be your ears aren’t giving your brain enough information fast enough.

#6: Feeling fatigued

Constantly straining to pay attention, whether you realize this is what you’re doing or not, is exhausting and can leave you feeling drained.

#7: Noise gets in the way

Does background noise intrude more than it should and prevent you hearing speech? If the noise in that favorite restaurant now gets in the way of romance rather than aids it, then it might be time to follow up with a hearing test.

Schedule an appointment with an audiologist in your area to have your hearing tested. If you do have hearing loss, the audiologist will be able to recommend the best treatment possible.