9 Early Warning Signs of Hearing Loss

elderly man experiencing early warning signs of hearing loss

People often notice other signs before they realize that they have hearing loss because it comes along gradually.

For those with hearing loss, treatment is beneficial not only for hearing but for overall health—and identifying hearing loss is the first step in receiving the treatment needed. Unfortunately, hearing loss is “invisible” and usually occurs gradually, and, as a result, it can be difficult to determine if hearing loss is present, especially in the early stages. 

Your loved ones or those closest to you may suspect you have a hearing problem before you do. Many people wait for years before treating their hearing loss because they don’t notice the symptoms or associate the early warning signs of hearing loss with a need for treatment. Let’s take a look at some common early signs.

Early Warning Signs of Hearing Loss

Struggling to hear when there is a lot of background noise

This situation is especially common in louder public settings, like a crowded restaurant. Background noise can make it difficult for those with hearing loss to follow the conversation. 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 just having trouble hearing, demonstrating why treatment is so important.

Asking people you’re speaking with to repeat themselves often

Even in situations where background noise is minimal, hearing loss can make conversations difficult by muffling the speaker’s voice or making 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.

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

Similar to the last point, hearing loss can make it especially difficult to hear others when they aren’t speaking directly 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.

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 actually be a sign of hearing loss. Losing the ability to hear high-frequency sounds is commonly associated with hearing loss, specifically age-related hearing loss. Because women and children typically speak at higher frequency, hearing loss can affect their voices more.

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 everyday sounds in your life. You likely won’t notice as it’s happening, but hearing birds chirping, the clock ticking, or your turn signal blinking may have become difficult—or even impossible—to hear. This is an early warning sign of hearing loss that shouldn’t be ignored.

Commonly having to turn the volume of TV, radio, or other device 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. 

Ringing or buzzing in one or both ears

If you find yourself wondering “why are my ears ringing,” it may actually be an early warning sign of hearing loss. Ringing or buzzing in the ears, known as tinnitus, is an incredibly 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. In fact, tinnitus can actually be your brain’s way of adjusting to hearing loss—due to less sounds being picked up by the brain, the ears compensate with ringing.

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

Hearing loss is a frustrating problem that can cause physical or emotional stress. Straining to listen to others can be exhausting and cause you to feel physically worn out by the end of the day.

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 to 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 Lumen hearing aid is a great solution for those who want effective, affordable hearing treatment. With a risk-free, 45-day trial, you can treat your hearing loss with confidence. Learn how the Lumen can solve your daily hearing needs by shopping online or speaking with a hearing expert today.

Photograph of article author Renate Olinger

Written byRenate Olinger

Masters in Audiology

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