Hearing loss is exclusively an issue for older people, right?
Not exactly. While it’s true 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 direct exposure 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 hit at any age, it’s critical to understand the indicators as they’re typically subtle and difficult to perceive.
Below are 8 silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to schedule a hearing test.
1. Ringing or buzzing in the ears
Have you ever come home from a noisy live performance and observed 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 occurred a couple of times, the damage is most likely transient and slight. However, continued exposure or one-time direct exposure to very loud sounds could generate permanent damage and hearing loss.
If the ringing in your ears continues, you should schedule a hearing test as this is one of the initial signs of hearing damage. And if bypassing upcoming concerts is not a possibility for you, your hearing professional can help you avoid additional damage with individualized earplugs.
2. Balance issues
Your hearing and balance are intricately linked. In fact, a large element of your ability to stay balanced is the result of sophisticated structures within the inner ear.
If you find that you’ve been more clumsy as of late, the issue may in fact be with your ears. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University revealed that those 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 very limited, able to manage 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 completely miss or misunderstand the speaker’s words or statement. This manifests at a later time when you can’t call to mind significant information.
4. Painful sounds
With hearing loss, you may become overly sensitive to select sounds, to the point where they become painful.
The medical term for this is hyperacusis, and you’ll want to speak with a hearing professional if the problem persists or becomes intolerable.
5. Listening fatigue
Just imagine spending the day attempting to figure out 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 observe that you’re far too tired at the end of the day, hearing loss may be to blame.
6. Difficulty hearing in groups
Early stage hearing loss ordinarily doesn’t present itself during person-to-person discussions or in tranquil settings. More commonly, hearing loss only becomes an issue in the presence of background noise or in group situations.
7. Not hearing calls or alarms
Hearing loss is most of the time hard to notice or identify as it grows progressively every year. Oftentimes, friends and family members will take note of the hearing loss before the person suffering from it does.
But there are some warning signs you can look out for, such as 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 trouble hearing the conversations in shows and movies. That’s because most instances of hearing loss affect high-frequency sounds to the highest degree, and speech is a high-frequency sound.
It’s never too early to care for your hearing health. If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, schedule a consultation with your local hearing professional.