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Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

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

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

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

Since hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s vital to understand the signs as they’re oftentimes discreet and tough to detect.

Below are 8 silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to get a hearing test.

1. Ringing in the ears

Have you ever returned home from a very loud live performance and noticed a ringing or humming in your ears?

If yes, that means you’ve damaged the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only happened a couple of times, the damage is most likely short-term and minor. But continued exposure or one-time exposure to very loud sounds could produce irreparable damage and hearing loss.

If you continue to hear ringing in your ears, you should arrange a hearing test as this is one of the first signs of hearing problems. And if passing up upcoming live shows is not a possibility for you, your hearing consultant can help you avoid further damage with custom-fit earplugs.

2. Balance issues

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

If you find 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 revealed 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 quite limited, able to cope with only a few items for a short duration. That indicates that you don’t have time to get caught up on missed words during fast-moving discussions.

With hearing loss, speech comprehension is compromised as you can entirely miss or misinterpret the speaker’s words or statement. This manifests at a later time when you can’t recollect important information.

4. Painful sounds

When you lose your hearing, you may become exceedingly sensitive to particular sounds, to the point where they become painful.

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

5. Listening exhaustion

Imagine spending the day attempting to decipher meaning from half-heard words and phrases and responding to questions you didn’t completely hear. That degree of attention can wear you out quickly.

If you observe that you’re extremely tired at the end of the day, hearing loss may be to blame.

6. Trouble hearing in groups

Early stage hearing loss usually doesn’t present itself during one-on-one discussions or in quiet environments. Most often, hearing loss only becomes a problem in the presence of background noise or in group situations.

7. Not hearing calls or alarms

Hearing loss is usually difficult to notice or detect as it grows progressively every year. Oftentimes, friends and family members will take note of the hearing loss prior to the person suffering from it does.

However, there are some subtle warning signs you can watch 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 dialogue in tv shows and movies. That’s because the majority of instances of hearing loss impact high-frequency sounds to the greatest degree, and speech is a high-frequency sound.

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

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