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Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

Hearing loss is only 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 fact, 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 sounds 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 understand the indicators as they’re notoriously discreet and tough to perceive.

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

1. Ringing in the ears

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

If so, that means you’ve harmed the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only transpired a couple of times, the damage is probably transient and insignificant. But continued exposure or one-time exposure to very loud sounds could create irreparable damage and hearing loss.

If you continue to hear ringing in your ears, you should schedule a hearing test as this is one of the first signs of hearing problems. And if bypassing future live shows is not a possibility for you, your hearing professional can help you prevent additional injury with custom-fit earplugs.

2. Balance issues

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

If you find 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 rather limited, able to cope with only a few items for a short time period. That indicates that 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 misconstrue the speaker’s words or statement. This manifests later on when you can’t call to mind 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 scientific term for this is hyperacusis, and you’ll want to speak with a hearing professional if the problem continues or becomes intolerable.

5. Listening fatigue

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

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

6. Trouble hearing in groups

Early stage hearing loss normally doesn’t present itself during person-to-person conversations or in tranquil environments. Most often, hearing loss only becomes a problem in the presence of background noise or in group settings.

7. Not hearing calls or alarms

Hearing loss is often difficult to notice or detect as it grows gradually every year. Oftentimes, friends and family members will take note of the hearing loss before 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 phone calls, the doorbell, or the television at normal volume.

8. Trouble hearing movie dialogue

With hearing loss, you may have particular difficulty hearing the conversations in shows and movies. That’s because the majority of instances of hearing loss affect high-frequency sounds to the largest 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 an appointment with your local hearing care professional.