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Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

Hearing loss is only an issue for older people, right?

Not exactly. While it’s true that your chances 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 exposure to loud sound at work and during leisure activities. And that includes 1 in 14 generation Xers, age 29-40, who already have hearing loss.

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

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

1. Ringing in the ears

Have you ever come home from a noisy live concert and observed a ringing or humming in your ears?

If yes, 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 most likely transient and minor. However, continued exposure or one-time direct exposure to very loud sounds could create irreparable damage and hearing loss.

If the ringing in your ears continues, you should book a hearing test as this is one of the initial signs of hearing problems. And if skipping future live shows is not a viable alternative for you, your hearing specialist can help you prevent additional damage with custom-fit earplugs.

2. Balance issues

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

If you detect 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 impairment

Your short-term or working memory is quite limited, able to cope with only a few items for a short period of time. That indicates 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 entirely miss or misunderstand the speaker’s words or statement. This manifests later when you can’t remember important information.

4. Painful sounds

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

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

5. Listening exhaustion

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

If you discover that you’re exceedingly 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 discussions or in tranquil 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 most of the time tough to notice or identify as it builds up gradually 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 warning signs you can look 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 difficulty hearing the conversations in tv shows and movies. That’s because the majority of 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 take care of your hearing health. If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with your local hearing care professional.