In some ways dealing with hearing loss can be easier than recognizing it. Unless someone suffers a sudden hearing loss (SHL) episode, the weakening of one’s hearing can be so gradual — and concentrated in the higher range of perceptible sounds — that it’s easy to get used to. This is one reason why periodically having a hearing test is advisable.

There are a number of signs that one’s hearing is degrading. One early sign might be the emotional reaction to it.

If you or someone you know finds themselves stressing out or getting annoyed during conversations — especially in crowded places like restaurants — then that might be a sign that the struggle to actually hear the conversation is taking a toll. This can also manifest itself in social awkwardness and nervousness about participating in social events. Sometimes the emotions are ahead of the rational analysis.

Concrete signs to be on the lookout for include the need to have others repeat themselves, deciding that other people are always mumbling, difficulty dealing with noisy environments, having more issues with people with higher-pitched voices, and needing the volume on TVs and radios turned up louder than other people.

A ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus, is oftentimes a symptom of age-related hearing loss. The realization that one is depending on lip-reading to better understand what people are saying is also a dependable sign of underlying hearing loss.

Finally, some medical indications to keep in mind that can negatively affect hearing include a family history of hearing issues; circulatory issues like diabetes or heart disease; thyroid issues; ototoxic medications that have the side effect of inhibiting hearing; and any history of being exposed to loud noises over the long-term, such as hunting with a gun or working in a loud environment.