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Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

Hearing loss is strictly 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 stated 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 important to recognize the signs as they’re normally subtle and hard to detect.

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

1. Ringing in the ears

Have you ever arrived home from a very loud 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 taken place a few times, the damage is probably transient and modest. But continual exposure or one-time exposure to very loud sounds could generate permanent 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 damage. And if passing up upcoming live shows is not a possibility for you, your hearing consultant can help you avoid additional injury with custom-made earplugs.

2. Balance issues

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

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

3. Memory problems

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 that 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 completely miss or misinterpret the speaker’s words or message. This manifests at a later time when you can’t call to mind important information.

4. Painful sounds

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

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

5. Listening exhaustion

Think of spending the day attempting to figure out meaning from half-heard words and phrases and replying to questions you didn’t entirely hear. That level of attention can wear you out quickly.

If you observe that 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 one-on-one conversations or in tranquil environments. More commonly, hearing loss only becomes an issue in the presence of background noise or in group situations.

7. Not hearing alarms or calls

Hearing loss is often tough 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.

However, there are some subtle warning signs you can keep an eye out for, including the inability to hear alarms or 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 the majority of instances of hearing loss affect 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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