The Silent Signs of Hearing Loss

Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

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

Not exactly. While it’s true that your chances of acquiring hearing loss increase with age, you can, in truth, develop hearing loss at any age.

According to 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 important to recognize the indicators as they’re notoriously discreet and difficult to perceive.

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

1. Ringing in the ears

Have you ever arrived home from a very loud live show and observed a ringing or buzzing in your ears?

If yes, that means you’ve injured the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only occurred a couple of times, the damage is more than likely short-term and minimal. However, continual 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 set up a hearing test as this is one of the initial signs of hearing problems. And if passing up upcoming concerts is not a possibility for you, your hearing professional can help you prevent additional injury with custom-fit earplugs.

2. Balance problems

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

If you detect that you’ve been more clumsy as of late, the issue may actually be with your ears. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University found that individuals with hearing loss were three times more likely to have a history of falling, depending on the degree of hearing loss.

3. Memory impairment

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

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

4. Painful sounds

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

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

5. Listening exhaustion

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

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

6. Difficulty hearing in groups

Early stage hearing loss typically doesn’t present itself during one-on-one discussions or in tranquil environments. More commonly, hearing loss only becomes a problem in the presence of background noise or in group situations.

7. Not hearing calls or alarms

Hearing loss is most of the time difficult to notice or identify as it grows progressively every year. In many cases, friends and family members will notice the hearing loss before the person suffering from it does.

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

8. Trouble hearing movie dialogue

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

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

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