Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

Hearing loss is solely an issue for older people, right?

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

As reported by the NIDCD, 26 million Americans age 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from 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.

Considering hearing loss can strike at any age, it’s imperative to understand the signs as they’re normally discreet and hard to notice.

Below are 8 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 very loud concert and observed a ringing or buzzing in your ears?

If yes, that means you’ve damaged the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only come about a few times, the harm is more than likely temporary and mild. However, continual exposure or one-time direct exposure to very loud sounds could create irreparable damage and hearing loss.

If you continue to hear ringing in your ears, you should book a hearing test as this is one of the first signs of hearing problems. And if bypassing upcoming live shows is not a viable alternative for you, your hearing specialist can help you avoid additional damage with custom-made earplugs.

2. Balance problems

Your hearing and balance are intricately linked. In fact, a major component of your ability to stay balanced is due to elaborate structures within the inner ear.

If you notice that you’ve been more clumsy as of late, the problem may actually be with your ears. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University determined that individuals with hearing loss were three times more likely to have a history of falling.

3. Memory impairment

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

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 recall important information.

4. Painful sounds

With hearing loss, you may become excessively sensitive to select sounds, to the point where they become painful.

The technical term for this is hyperacusis, and you’ll want to contact a hearing professional if the issue persists or becomes intolerable.

5. Listening exhaustion

Imagine spending the day working hard to determine meaning from half-heard words and phrases and replying to questions you didn’t entirely hear. That degree of attention can wear you out quickly.

If you notice you’re overly tired at the end of the day, hearing loss may be to blame.

6. Trouble hearing in groups

Early stage hearing loss typically doesn’t present itself during one-on-one discussions or in quiet settings. More commonly, hearing loss only becomes a problem in the presence of background noise or in group settings.

7. Not hearing alarms or calls

Hearing loss is very often hard to notice or identify as it builds up incrementally every year. In many cases, friends and family members will take note of the hearing loss prior to the person suffering from it does.

But there are some warning signs you can look out for, including 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 dialogue in tv shows and movies. That’s because most cases of hearing loss impact high-frequency sounds to the largest degree, and speech is a high-frequency sound.


It’s never too soon to take care of your hearing health. If you encounter any of these signs or symptoms, schedule a consultation with your local hearing care professional.