All Ears: What are common hearing loss symptoms?

Nearly 48 million Americans report some kind of hearing loss. Typically, the signs of hearing loss are subtle and emerge slowly. It may take someone years to realize they have hearing loss.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends adults over 50 have their hearing tested every three years. Unfortunately, most people test their hearing only after their hearing loss has begun to create challenges.

So, short of having it tested by a hearing professional, how might you know if you have hearing loss before it escalates?

  • You ask “What?” often Asking for repetition once in a while is okay, especially if you weren’t paying attention or the speaker is talking from a distance. But if you find yourself asking for repetition frequently, this may be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • Everyone around you seems to mumble A classic complaint with people who have hearing loss is that people don’t speak clearly. If you find yourself thinking people are mumbling and hard to understand, that may be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • You have trouble hearing in noise If you have trouble hearing in restaurants, group situations or at cocktail parties, this may be a sign of hearing loss.
  • You have trouble hearing on the phone If you have trouble occasionally, that is OK. If you constantly feel like you cannot hear on the phone, whether you’re using a landline or mobile phone, this may be a symptom of hearing loss.

Having trouble understanding others on the phone is a sign of hearing loss.

  • People have said something to you If loved ones or friends are mentioning that you aren’t hearing well, this may be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • You have diabetes, heart disease or thyroid problems Research has shown there is a correlation: people with diabetes, heart disease, and/or thyroid issues have a higher rate of hearing loss.
  • You have ringing in your ears Ringing in your ears is often thought to be a symptom of hearing loss or damage to the auditory system — and hearing loss and tinnitus very often go hand in hand.
  • People tell you your television is too loud If you need to turn your TV to a volume others find uncomfortable just to hear it, that can be a sign of hearing loss.

Are you turning up the TV volume? This could be a sign of hearing loss.

  • You fatigue easily after long conversations/periods of listening People with hearing loss have to exert extra energy to focus on and follow conversations, which can lead to mental fatigue. If you find yourself struggling to follow or avoiding long periods of listening (i.e. lectures, meetings) this may be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • You dread/avoid going into situations where there are going to be more than two people Social isolation is a real consequence of hearing loss, as many people who struggle to hear choose to avoid events and activities where hearing clearly is key.
  • You misunderstand what people say Hearing or responding to something incorrectly can sometimes be more embarrassing than not hearing it at all. For example, that could include mixing up words such as road for rose, white for wife, etc. Has that happened to you?
  • Family history of hearing loss If your family has a history of age-related hearing loss, chances are you’ll eventually have to deal with it too.

If you feel like you may have a hearing loss, you can take our free online hearing test, or — better yet — visit a local hearing professional for a thorough evaluation and test. You can find one here.  

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By Sejal Kuvadia, Au.D.