Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

Hearing loss is exclusively a problem for older people, right?

Not quite. While it’s a fact that your chances of developing hearing loss increase with age, you can, in fact, develop hearing loss at any age.

As stated by the NIDCD, 26 million Americans age 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from exposure to loud sounds at work and during leisure activities. And that includes 1 in 14 generation Xers, age 29-40, who already have hearing loss.

Provided that hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s important to recognize the indicators as they’re frequently subtle and tough to perceive.

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 arrived home from a piercing live show and observed a ringing or buzzing in your ears?

If so, that means you’ve injured the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only transpired a couple of times, the harm is probably transient and mild. But continual exposure or one-time direct exposure to very loud sounds could generate permanent damage and hearing loss.

If the ringing in your ears persists, you should book a hearing test as this is one of the first signs of hearing problems. And if passing up upcoming live shows is not a viable alternative for you, your hearing professional can help you avoid additional damage with customized earplugs.

2. Balance problems

Your hearing and balance are intricately interconnected. In fact, a large element of your ability to remain balanced is a consequence of sophisticated structures within the inner ear.

If you find 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, depending on the degree of hearing loss.

3. Memory impairment

Your short-term or working memory is rather limited, able to process only a few items for a short period of time. That indicates you don’t have time to get caught up on missed words during fast moving conversations.

With hearing loss, speech comprehension suffers as you can entirely miss or misconstrue the speaker’s words or message. This manifests later on when you can’t recollect significant information.

4. Painful sounds

When you lose your hearing, you may become overly sensitive to certain 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 problem persists or becomes intolerable.

5. Listening exhaustion

Just imagine spending the day attempting to decipher 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 excessively fatigued 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. Most often, 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 usually tough to notice or identify as it builds up incrementally each year. Oftentimes, friends and family members will notice the hearing loss before the person suffering from it does.

But there are some subtle warning signs you can look out 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 problems 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 care for your hearing health. If you encounter any of these signs or symptoms, arrange a consultation with your local hearing professional.