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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 quite. While it’s a fact that your chances of developing hearing loss increase with age, you can, in truth, develop hearing loss at any age.

As reported by the NIDCD, 26 million Americans age 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from being exposed to loud noise 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 vital to understand the signs as they’re frequently subtle and difficult to notice.

The following 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 loud concert and noticed 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 come about a few times, the harm is probably short-term and insignificant. But continued exposure or one-time exposure to very loud sounds could generate irreversible 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 skipping upcoming concerts is not an option for you, your hearing specialist can help you avoid further injury with custom-fit earplugs.

2. Balance problems

Your hearing and balance are intricately linked. In fact, a major element 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 issue may actually 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 problems

Your short-term or working memory is rather limited, able to handle only a few items for a short duration. That indicates you don’t have time to catch up on missed words during fast moving discussions.

With hearing loss, speech comprehension suffers as you can entirely miss or misinterpret the speaker’s words or statement. This manifests later when you can’t recollect important information.

4. Painful sounds

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

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

5. Listening fatigue

Imagine spending the day trying to decipher meaning from half-heard words and phrases and responding to questions you didn’t fully hear. That amount of attention can wear you out quickly.

If you notice 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 normally 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 situations.

7. Not hearing alarms or calls

Hearing loss is most of the time hard to notice or detect as it develops little by little every year. Oftentimes, friends and family members will notice the hearing loss prior to the person suffering from it does.

However, there are some warning signs you can watch 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 dialogue in 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 look after your hearing health. If you encounter any of these signs or symptoms, arrange a consultation with your local hearing professional.