Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

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

Not quite. While it’s a fact that your chances 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 exposure 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.

Considering that hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s essential to understand the indicators as they’re often subtle and tough to detect.

Below are 8 silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to schedule a hearing test.

1. Ringing or buzzing in the ears

Have you ever returned home from a loud live show and observed a ringing or humming in your ears?

If yes, that means you’ve damaged the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only occurred a couple of times, the harm is more than likely short-term and minor. However, continued exposure or one-time direct exposure to very loud sounds could create 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 initial signs of hearing problems. And if bypassing future concerts is not a possibility for you, your hearing specialist can help you avoid additional damage with custom-made earplugs.

2. Balance problems

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

If you notice 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 revealed that individuals with hearing loss were three times more likely to have a history of falling.

3. Memory problems

Your short-term or working memory is very limited, able to handle only a few items for a short duration. That means you don’t have time to catch 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 statement. This manifests later when you can’t recall significant information.

4. Painful sounds

With hearing loss, you may become excessively sensitive to certain sounds, to the point where they cause pain or discomfort.

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

5. Listening fatigue

Just imagine spending the day attempting to decipher meaning from half-heard words and sentences and responding to questions you didn’t entirely hear. That level of attention can wear you out fast.

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

6. Trouble hearing in groups

Early stage hearing loss usually doesn’t present itself during person-to-person conversations or in quiet settings. 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 usually difficult to notice or identify as it grows little by little every year. In many cases, friends and family members will take note of the hearing loss before the person suffering from it does.

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

8. Difficulty hearing movie dialogue

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


It’s never too soon to take care of your hearing health. If you experience any of these symptoms, arrange a consultation with your local hearing professional.

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