The Silent Signs of Hearing Loss

Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

Hearing loss is solely a problem for older people, right?

Not exactly. While it’s a fact that your odds of developing hearing loss increase as you age, you can, in truth, develop hearing loss at any age.

As indicated by the NIDCD, 26 million Americans age 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from direct exposure to loud noise at work and during leisure activities. And that includes 1 in 14 generation Xers, age 29-40, who already have hearing loss.

Seeing as hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s critical to recognize the signs as they’re notoriously discreet and difficult to perceive.

The following are 8 silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to get a hearing test.

1. Ringing in the ears

Have you ever returned home from a noisy live show and noticed a ringing or humming in your ears?

If that’s the case, that indicates you’ve harmed the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only transpired a couple of times, the damage is probably temporary and slight. But continued exposure or one-time exposure to very loud sounds could create irreparable damage and hearing loss.

If the ringing in your ears continues, you should arrange a hearing test as this is one of the initial signs of hearing problems. And if skipping upcoming concerts is not an option for you, your hearing professional can help you prevent additional injury with personalized earplugs.

2. Balance issues

Your hearing and balance are intricately connected. In fact, a large component of your ability to stay balanced is a consequence of elaborate structures within the inner ear.

If you notice that you’ve been more clumsy lately, the problem may in fact be with your ears. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University determined that those with hearing loss were three times more likely to have a history of falling.

3. Memory problems

Your short-term or working memory is very limited, able to handle only a few items for a short time period. That indicates you don’t have time to catch up on missed words during fast-moving conversations.

With hearing loss, speech comprehension is compromised as you can entirely miss or misinterpret the speaker’s words or message. This manifests later on when you can’t call to mind important information.

4. Painful sounds

With hearing loss, you may become overly sensitive to select sounds, to the point where they cause pain or discomfort.

The medical term for this is hyperacusis, and you’ll want to speak with a hearing professional if the problem continues or becomes intolerable.

5. Listening fatigue

Imagine spending the day working hard to determine meaning from half-heard words and sentences and replying to questions you didn’t entirely hear. That degree of attention can wear you out quickly.

If you discover that you’re excessively fatigued at the end of the day, hearing loss may be to blame.

6. Trouble hearing in groups

Early stage hearing loss typically doesn’t present itself during person-to-person conversations or in tranquil environments. Most often, hearing loss only becomes a problem in the presence of background noise or in group settings.

7. Not hearing alarms or calls

Hearing loss is most of the time difficult to notice or detect as it grows incrementally each year. Oftentimes, friends and family members will take note of the hearing loss prior to the person suffering from it does.

But there are some warning signs you can watch for, including the inability to hear alarms or phone calls, the doorbell, or the television at normal volume.

8. Trouble hearing movie dialogue

With hearing loss, you may have particular problems hearing the dialogue in shows and movies. That’s because the majority of instances of hearing loss impact high-frequency sounds to the highest degree, and speech is a high-frequency sound.


It’s never too early to look after your hearing health. If you encounter any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with your local hearing care professional.

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