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 acquiring hearing loss increase with 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 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.

Provided that hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s imperative to understand the indicators as they’re usually subtle and difficult to perceive.

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

1. Ringing or buzzing in the ears

Have you ever arrived home from a booming concert and noticed a ringing or humming in your ears?

If yes, that means you’ve injured the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only happened a couple of times, the damage is most likely temporary and mild. However, continued exposure or one-time direct exposure to very loud sounds could create irreversible damage and hearing loss.

If the ringing in your ears persists, you should book a hearing test as this is one of the initial signs of hearing problems. And if bypassing future live shows is not a possibility for you, your hearing professional can help you avoid additional damage with custom-made earplugs.

2. Balance issues

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

If you detect 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 deal with only a few items for a short duration. That means you don’t have time to get caught up on missed words during fast-moving conversations.

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

4. Painful sounds

When you lose your hearing, you may become overly sensitive to specific sounds, to the point where they become painful.

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

5. Listening fatigue

Just imagine spending the day working hard to figure out meaning from half-heard words and phrases and responding to questions you didn’t fully hear. That amount of attention can wear you out quickly.

If you notice you’re excessively exhausted 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 conversations 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 normally difficult to notice or detect as it develops progressively 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 subtle warning signs you can look out for, such as the inability to hear alarms or 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 most instances of hearing loss impact high-frequency sounds to the largest degree, and speech is a high-frequency sound.


It’s never too soon to look after 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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