Hearing loss is strictly a problem for older people, right?
Not exactly. 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.
Given that hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s important to recognize the signs as they’re often subtle and tough to notice.
Here 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 arrived home from a deafening live concert and observed a ringing or humming in your ears?
If that’s the case, that means you’ve injured the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only happened a couple of times, the damage is more than likely short-term and slight. But continued exposure or one-time direct 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 initial signs of hearing problems. And if passing up future concerts is not an option for you, your hearing consultant can help you avoid further damage with custom-fit earplugs.
2. Balance issues
Your hearing and balance are intricately interconnected. In fact, a major component of your ability to remain balanced is a consequence of elaborate structures within the inner ear.
If you detect that you’ve been more clumsy as of late, the problem 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, 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 time frame. That indicates you don’t have time to catch up on missed words during fast moving conversations.
With hearing loss, speech comprehension is compromised as you can completely miss or misconstrue the speaker’s words or message. This manifests later when you can’t recall important information.
4. Painful sounds
With hearing loss, you may become exceedingly sensitive to particular sounds, to the point where they become painful.
The medical term for this is hyperacusis, and you’ll want to contact a hearing professional if the issue persists or becomes intolerable.
5. Listening exhaustion
Think of spending the day trying to figure out meaning from half-heard words and sentences and responding to questions you didn’t completely hear. That degree of attention can wear you out quickly.
If you notice 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 quiet 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 generally hard to notice or identify as it builds up gradually each year. Oftentimes, friends and family members will notice the hearing loss before the person suffering from it does.
But there are some warning signs you can watch for, such as 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 trouble 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 soon to attend to your hearing health. If you encounter any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with your local hearing care professional.