Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

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

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

Considering that hearing loss can strike at any age, it’s imperative to understand the signs as they’re usually subtle and hard to detect.

Below are eight silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to book a hearing test.

1. Ringing or buzzing in the ears

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

If so, that means you’ve damaged the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only transpired a few times, the damage is more than likely transient and minimal. But continued exposure or one-time direct 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 damage. And if skipping upcoming live shows is not an option for you, your hearing consultant can help you avoid additional damage with personalized earplugs.

2. Balance issues

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

If you find 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 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 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 statement. This manifests at a later time when you can’t recall significant information.

4. Painful sounds

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

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

Think of spending the day attempting to decipher meaning from half-heard words and phrases and responding to questions you didn’t completely hear. That amount of attention can wear you out fast.

If you notice you’re far too fatigued 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 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 generally hard to notice or identify as it develops incrementally each year. Oftentimes, friends and family members will take note of the hearing loss before 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 television at normal volume.

8. Trouble hearing movie dialogue

With hearing loss, you may have particular problems hearing the dialogue in shows and movies. That’s because most 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 look after your hearing health. If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your local hearing professional.

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