Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can happen to anyone.

Think you may have hearing loss? Today, nearly 40 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, but the early symptoms can be easily missed because it often happens gradually.

Signs of hearing loss

No matter what type of hearing loss you have, the symptoms largely look the same. Here are some common early signs of hearing loss to watch for. If you're experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it may be time for a hearing test. 

You struggle to understand others

One early sign of hearing loss that is quite common is misunderstanding people that are speaking to you.  This can lead to misinterpretations and miscommunication between you and those you communicate with. If you often find yourself mistaking what people say, hearing loss could be to blame, and it might be time for a hearing test.

Loved ones complain about volume levels

Whether you're watching TV, listening to music, or talking on the phone, you might think that the noise level is perfectly normal until someone asks you to turn it down. Obviously, some people are bound to have more sensitive hearing, but when several people tell you the same thing in a variety of situations, there's a good chance that you could be struggling to hear. So if your family, friends, and coworkers have voiced the opinion that you talk too loudly and your music and television habits follow suit, it may be time for a hearing test.

You have trouble hearing in crowds

One of the first signs that you're suffering from hearing loss is when you have difficulty following a conversation in crowds. If you often have trouble differentiating between who’s speaking to you in a noisy environment, you could be in the early stages of hearing loss.

Your ears are ringing or buzzing

In truth, tinnitus is not necessarily a symptom of hearing loss, but the two often go hand-in-hand, especially if hearing loss is related to noise damage. If you notice a ringing or buzzing in your ears, you'll want to get it checked out by a hearing care professional. You should also take the opportunity to get a hearing test, just in case you have both conditions. Studies have shown that hearing aids can both relieve your tinnitus and help you hear if you have hearing loss.

You're constantly saying "What?"

Asking others to repeat themselves constantly is not only frustrating to those trying to tell you something, but it can start to make you feel uncomfortable as well. For this reason, people suffering from hearing loss often resort to nodding and smiling when people talk, even if they're not catching a word. If this is you or someone you know, it would probably be worth getting their hearing checked.

Social signs of hearing loss

Many people develop adaptive behaviors—or habits—to help compensate for the progression of their hearing loss in social settings. However, they may not even realize they’re doing it! Learn more about the two most common early social signs of hearing loss.

  • Social bluffing: Those with hearing loss often practice "social bluffing," or pretending to hear. They give cues to appear as if they have an understanding of what was said. For example, a person with hearing loss may smile and nod along or respond with vague expressions such as "that’s interesting" or "uh-huh." They often take these cues from other people’s reactions in the room, such as laughing along if they notice other people laughing.
  • Lip-reading and body language: Another common but subtle hearing loss behavior is learning to read a person’s lips—as well as facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language—to fill in the gaps. Those with hearing loss may rely on these visual cues to clarify what was said and may turn to face the speaker more directly to observe them better.
An elderly couple talking with an Amplifon hearing professional

Treat your hearing loss

If any of these early signs and symptoms of hearing loss sound familiar, the first step you should take is to have your hearing checked by a hearing care specialist. Your hearing care specialist will help determine the degree of hearing loss, if any, and whether hearing aids could help. Thanks to the wide availability of hearing aid technology, hearing loss doesn’t have to control your life.

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