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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 true that your chances of acquiring 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 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 that hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s vital to recognize the indicators as they’re frequently discreet and tough to notice.

Here are 8 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 very loud concert and observed a ringing or buzzing in your ears?

If that’s the case, that means you’ve harmed the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only occurred a few times, the harm is most likely temporary and slight. However, continued exposure or one-time exposure to very loud sounds could generate irreversible damage and hearing loss.

If the ringing in your ears continues, you should arrange a hearing test as this is one of the initial signs of hearing problems. And if passing up upcoming concerts is not a possibility for you, your hearing professional can help you avoid further injury with custom-fit earplugs.

2. Balance problems

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

If you notice that you’ve been more clumsy lately, the issue may in fact be with your ears. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University determined 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 problems

Your short-term or working memory is very limited, able to deal with only a few items for a short duration. That indicates you don’t have time to get caught up on missed words during fast moving conversations.

With hearing loss, speech comprehension is compromised as you can entirely miss or misinterpret the speaker’s words or message. This manifests at a later time when you can’t recall significant information.

4. Painful sounds

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

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

5. Listening exhaustion

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

If you discover that you’re overly tired 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 situations.

7. Not hearing calls or alarms

Hearing loss is generally hard to notice or identify as it develops incrementally each year. In many cases, friends and family members will notice the hearing loss before the person suffering from it does.

But there are some subtle warning signs you can keep an eye out 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 problems hearing the conversations in shows and movies. That’s because the majority of instances of hearing loss impact 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 encounter any of these symptoms, arrange a consultation with your local hearing professional.