Elderly man cupping his ear to hear better, a common sign of hearing loss

8 Early Warning Signs of Hearing Loss

Published: June 27, 2020

Updated: September 20, 2022

Identifying the early signs of hearing loss can be a real challenge. Even audiologists need to conduct careful and thorough examinations before they can make any diagnosis. But, with some basic knowledge, you can be better equipped to notice your, or a loved one’s, developing hearing loss.

If you have hearing loss, treatment doesn’t just benefit your hearing health, but your overall health. But, identifying when and how to seek treatment is crucial.

Let’s take a look at some common early signs of hearing loss.

Early Warning Signs of Hearing Loss

1. Struggling to hear when there is a lot of background noise

This situation is especially common in louder public settings, like a crowded restaurants. Background noise can make it difficult for people with hearing loss to follow conversations. You may even find yourself avoiding going out with others if you know it’ll be a noisy environment. Avoiding these social situations is an example of how hearing loss can extend beyond difficulty hearing. That’s why treatment is so important.

2. Asking people you’re speaking with to repeat themselves often

Even in situations where background noise is minimal, hearing loss can muffle a speaker’s voice or make it sound like they are mumbling. You may especially have difficulty hearing people when talking on the phone. If you find yourself constantly asking them to repeat what they said, or asking them to speak louder, it may be an indication that treatment is needed.

3. Missing what someone says when the speaker isn’t looking at you

Hearing loss can also make it difficult to hear others when they aren’t speaking to you. This could be in a small group, where the speaker is looking around the room, causing you to miss bits of information. It could also be that the speaker was in a different room entirely. These situations can be frustrating, but identifying them as early warning signs of hearing loss can allow you to get the treatment you need.

4. Finding it particularly difficult to hear women’s and children’s voices

You may not immediately notice, but if you have found that it’s hard to hear women or children, this can be a sign of hearing loss. Losing the ability to hear high-frequency sounds is commonly associated with hearing loss. This is especially common with age-related hearing loss. Because women and children typically speak at a higher frequency, if you have hearing loss it can be especially difficult to hear their voices.

5. Finding that everyday sounds have disappeared

As mentioned above, high-frequency sounds are often affected by hearing loss. That not only applies to conversations with others but also with every day sounds too. You likely won’t notice as it’s happening. Birds chirping, ticking clocks or a turn signal blinking may become difficult to hear. This is an early warning sign of hearing loss that shouldn’t be ignored.

6. Having to turn the volume of the TV, radio, or other devices higher

If you’re watching your favorite show, but always seem to have to turn up the volume, it may be due to hearing loss. While you may not notice it yourself right away, others likely will. 

7. Ringing or buzzing in one or both ears

If you find yourself wondering why your ears are ringing, it may be an early warning sign of hearing loss. Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus) is a common condition, and it can have many causes. Old age and loud noise exposure are two common causes, both of which are also associated with hearing loss. Tinnitus can be your brain’s way of adjusting to hearing loss. Due to fewer sounds being picked up by the brain, the ears compensate with ringing.

8. Feeling tired at the end of the day from straining to hear conversations

Hearing loss is a frustrating problem that can cause physical and/or emotional stress. Straining to listen  to others can be exhausting, called listening fatigue; causing you to feel physically worn out by the end of the day. When our hearing is reduced, our brain has to work harder to interpret sound. We might not be consciously aware of the effort it takes to process sounds, but it results in us feeling exhausted.  The worse your hearing loss is, the harder you have to work to hear and understand, and the quicker you’ll start feeling the effects of listening fatigue. This is why so many people who are hard of hearing begin to isolate themselves.

Treating your hearing loss

If you’re experiencing any of these early warning signs of hearing loss, we encourage you to complete a hearing test. This will determine your level of hearing loss. Lexie offers a free online hearing test that can be completed in under two minutes. This clinically validated test will be a great first step in taking back control of your hearing.

The Lexie hearing aids are a great solution for people who want an effective, affordable hearing solution. With a risk-free, 45-day trial, you can manage your hearing loss with confidence. Learn how Lexie hearing aids can solve your daily hearing needs by shopping online or speaking with a Lexie Expert today.

Image of post writer Renate Olinger.

Written by Renate Olinger

M. Audiology

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