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Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

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

Not exactly. While it’s a fact that your chances of developing hearing loss increase with 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 direct 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.

Considering hearing loss can strike at any age, it’s crucial to understand the indicators as they’re typically discreet and difficult to perceive.

The following are 8 silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to book a hearing test.

1. Ringing or buzzing in the ears

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

If that’s the case, that means you’ve injured the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only come about a few times, the harm is more than likely short-term and mild. However, continued exposure or one-time direct exposure to very loud sounds could produce irreparable damage and hearing loss.

If the ringing in your ears persists, you should schedule a hearing test as this is one of the initial signs of hearing problems. And if bypassing upcoming 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 linked. In fact, a large component of your ability to stay balanced is due to elaborate structures within the inner ear.

If you find that you’ve been more clumsy lately, the issue may in fact 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, depending on the degree of hearing loss.

3. Memory impairment

Your short-term or working memory is rather limited, able to process 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 discussions.

With hearing loss, speech comprehension suffers as you can completely miss or misunderstand the speaker’s words or statement. This manifests later when you can’t remember significant information.

4. Painful sounds

With hearing loss, you may become exceedingly sensitive to certain sounds, to the point where they become painful.

The medical 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 trying to determine meaning from half-heard words and phrases and responding to questions you didn’t entirely hear. That amount of attention can wear you out quickly.

If you notice you’re far too 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 one-on-one conversations or in quiet 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 very often tough to notice or identify as it grows gradually each year. Oftentimes, friends and family members will notice the hearing loss prior to the person suffering from it does.

However, there are some subtle warning signs you can look out for, including the inability to hear alarms or phone calls, the doorbell, or the television at normal volume.

8. Difficulty hearing movie dialogue

With hearing loss, you may have particular difficulty 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 early to take care of your hearing health. If you encounter any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment with your local hearing professional.