Hearing loss is strictly 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 fact, develop hearing loss at any age.
According to the NIDCD, 26 million Americans age 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from 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.
Since hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s crucial to recognize the indicators as they’re frequently discreet and tough to notice.
The following are eight silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to arrange a hearing test.
1. Ringing in the ears
Have you ever come home from a deafening concert and observed a ringing or humming in your ears?
If yes, that indicates you’ve damaged the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only occurred a couple of times, the harm is probably temporary and modest. 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 set up a hearing test as this is one of the initial signs of hearing damage. And if bypassing upcoming live shows is not a possibility for you, your hearing specialist can help you prevent further injury with personalized earplugs.
2. Balance issues
Your hearing and balance are intricately interconnected. In fact, a large component of your ability to remain balanced is due to sophisticated structures within the inner ear.
If you notice 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 determined 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 problems
Your short-term or working memory is rather limited, able to cope with 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 is compromised as you can entirely miss or misunderstand the speaker’s words or message. This manifests later on when you can’t call to mind important information.
4. Painful sounds
When you lose your hearing, you may become exceedingly sensitive to select sounds, to the point where they cause pain or discomfort.
The scientific term for this is hyperacusis, and you’ll want to contact a hearing professional if the problem persists or becomes intolerable.
5. Listening exhaustion
Think of spending the day trying to determine meaning from half-heard words and phrases and replying to questions you didn’t fully hear. That degree of attention can wear you out fast.
If you notice you’re extremely fatigued 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 quiet environments. Most often, hearing loss only becomes a problem in the presence of background noise or in group settings.
7. Not hearing calls or alarms
Hearing loss is generally difficult 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.
However, there are some subtle warning signs you can watch 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 difficulty hearing the conversations in tv shows and movies. That’s because most cases of hearing loss affect high-frequency sounds to the largest degree, and speech is a high-frequency sound.
It’s never too soon to take care of your hearing health. If you experience any of these symptoms, arrange an appointment with your local hearing professional.