Hearing loss is solely an issue for older people, right?
Not exactly. While it’s a fact that your chances of acquiring hearing loss increase with age, you can, in truth, develop hearing loss at any age.
According to the NIDCD, 26 million Americans age 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from being exposed 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.
Seeing as hearing loss can strike at any age, it’s important to understand the signs as they’re oftentimes discreet and difficult to notice.
Below are 8 silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to get 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 harmed the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only happened a few times, the harm is probably short-term and slight. But continued exposure or one-time exposure to very loud sounds could generate permanent 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 damage. And if passing up upcoming live shows is not a possibility for you, your hearing professional can help you avoid further damage with custom made earplugs.
2. Balance problems
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 detect that you’ve been more clumsy lately, the issue may actually be with your ears. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University found that individuals with hearing loss were three times more likely to have a history of falling.
3. Memory problems
Your short-term or working memory is rather limited, able to manage only a few items for a short time period. 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 completely miss or misunderstand the speaker’s words or statement. This manifests at a later time when you can’t call to mind important information.
4. Painful sounds
With hearing loss, you may become overly sensitive to select sounds, to the point where they become painful.
The technical term for this is hyperacusis, and you’ll want to speak with a hearing professional if the issue continues or becomes intolerable.
5. Listening exhaustion
Imagine spending the day attempting to figure out meaning from half-heard words and sentences and replying to questions you didn’t entirely hear. That degree of attention can wear you out quickly.
If you notice you’re overly fatigued 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 one-on-one conversations or in quiet environments. More commonly, 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 difficult to notice or identify as it grows progressively each 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 keep an eye out for, including 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 problems hearing the conversations in shows and movies. That’s because the majority of instances of hearing loss affect high-frequency sounds to the greatest 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 care professional.