8 Subtle Signs of Hearing Loss

Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

Hearing loss is only 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 fact, develop hearing loss at any age.

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

Since hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s essential to recognize the signs as they’re frequently discreet and hard to perceive.

Below are eight silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to arrange a hearing test.

1. Ringing or buzzing in the ears

Have you ever come home from a booming live performance and noticed a ringing or buzzing in your ears?

If so, that means you’ve harmed the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only happened a few times, the harm is more than likely transient and slight. However, continual exposure or one-time exposure to very loud sounds could generate permanent damage and hearing loss.

If you continue to hear ringing in your ears, you should set up a hearing test as this is one of the first signs of hearing problems. And if bypassing upcoming concerts is not a possibility for you, your hearing professional can help you prevent additional injury with custom-fit earplugs.

2. Balance issues

Your hearing and balance are intricately interconnected. In fact, a major 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 issue may in fact be with your ears. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University determined that individuals with hearing loss were three times more likely to have a history of falling.

3. Memory impairment

Your short-term or working memory is rather limited, able to cope with only a few items for a short period of time. That means you don’t have time to get caught up on missed words during fast moving discussions.

With hearing loss, speech comprehension suffers as you can completely miss or misconstrue the speaker’s words or statement. This manifests at a later time when you can’t recall significant information.

4. Painful sounds

When you lose your hearing, you may become exceedingly sensitive to particular sounds, to the point where they cause pain or discomfort.

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

5. Listening fatigue

Think of spending the day working hard to decipher meaning from half-heard words and phrases and replying to questions you didn’t entirely hear. That amount of attention can wear you out fast.

If you notice you’re extremely tired at the end of the day, hearing loss may be to blame.

6. Difficulty hearing in groups

Early stage hearing loss ordinarily doesn’t present itself during person-to-person discussions or in quiet environments. Most often, hearing loss only becomes an issue in the presence of background noise or in group settings.

7. Not hearing calls or alarms

Hearing loss is very often difficult to notice or detect as it develops incrementally every year. In many cases, friends and family members will notice the hearing loss before the person suffering from it does.

However, there are some warning signs you can keep an eye out for, including the inability to hear alarms or calls, the doorbell, or the television at normal volume.

8. Difficulty hearing movie dialogue

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

It’s never too soon to attend to your hearing health. If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment with your local hearing care professional.

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