Hearing loss is exclusively a problem for older people, right?
Not quite. While it’s a fact that your chances of acquiring hearing loss increase with age, you can, in fact, develop hearing loss at any age.
As reported by the NIDCD, 26 million Americans age 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from direct 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.
Provided that hearing loss can strike at any age, it’s important to understand the indicators as they’re commonly subtle and difficult to perceive.
The following are eight silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to get a hearing test.
1. Ringing or buzzing in the ears
Have you ever come home from a booming 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 transpired a couple of times, the damage is probably temporary and trivial. However, continued exposure or one-time direct exposure to very loud sounds could create irreversible damage and hearing loss.
If the ringing in your ears continues, you should set up a hearing test as this is one of the first signs of hearing problems. And if passing up future live shows is not a possibility for you, your hearing consultant can help you avoid additional damage with custom-made earplugs.
2. Balance issues
Your hearing and balance are intricately interconnected. In fact, a major component of your ability to stay balanced is a consequence of elaborate structures within the inner ear.
If you detect that you’ve been more clumsy lately, the problem may actually be with your ears. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University found 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 impairment
Your short-term or working memory is rather limited, able to deal with only a few items for a short duration. That means you don’t have time to get caught up on missed words during fast moving conversations.
With hearing loss, speech comprehension is compromised as you can entirely miss or misunderstand the speaker’s words or statement. This manifests later on when you can’t remember significant information.
4. Painful sounds
When you lose your hearing, you may become excessively sensitive to certain sounds, to the point where they cause pain or discomfort.
The technical term for this is hyperacusis, and you’ll want to talk to a hearing professional if the issue persists or becomes intolerable.
5. Listening fatigue
Think of spending the day working hard to determine meaning from half-heard words and phrases and responding to questions you didn’t fully hear. That amount of attention can wear you out quickly.
If you discover that you’re overly tired 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 person-to-person discussions or in tranquil environments. More commonly, 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 usually hard to notice or identify as it builds up incrementally each year. In many cases, friends and family members will take note of the hearing loss before the person suffering from it does.
But there are some subtle warning signs you can look out for, including the inability to hear alarms or calls, the doorbell, or the television at normal volume.
8. Difficulty hearing movie dialogue
With hearing loss, you may have particular difficulty hearing the conversations in shows and movies. That’s because most cases of hearing loss impact high-frequency sounds to the greatest degree, and speech is a high-frequency sound.
It’s never too early to take care of your hearing health. If you encounter any of these signs or symptoms, arrange an appointment with your local hearing care professional.