Learn what hearing loss sounds like.
Hearing loss can happen to anyone. Today more than 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Since hearing loss progression often happens gradually, the early symptoms can be subtle or easy to miss.
Whether you have noise--induced hearing loss, progressive hearing loss from aging, or some other type of hearing loss that occurs over time, the symptoms largely look the same. By knowing the common, early signs of hearing loss to watch for, you can more quickly recognize hearing loss progression and schedule a hearing test to take action. Early signs of hearing loss generally begin with one or more of the following experiences.
Many people develop adaptive behaviors—or habits—to help compensate for the progression of their hearing loss in social settings. They may not even realize they’re doing it! Learn more about the two most common early social signs of hearing loss.
Those with hearing loss often practice "social bluffing," or pretending to hear. They might behave in a way that feigns understanding of what was said. For example, a person with hearing loss may smile and nod along, or respond with vague expressions such as "that’s interesting" or "uh-huh." They often take cues from other people’s reactions in the room, too, such as laughing along if they notice other people are laughing.
Another common, but subtle hearing loss behavior is learning to read a person’s lips—as well as facial expressions, hand gestures and body language—to help fill in the gaps.
Those with hearing loss may start to rely on these visual cues to clarify what was said, and may turn to face the speaker more directly to better observe them.
Signs of hearing loss vary based on the kind of hearing loss you are experiencing and the severity of the loss. While many early symptoms may be similar, more specific symptoms by type include:
Difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like women and children’s voices, birds chirping and consonants sounds like “f,” “s” and “th.”
Difficulty hearing lower-pitched sounds like a dog barking, lawn mower or consonant sounds like “j,” “u” and “z.”
Difficulty hearing mid-frequency sounds like normal human speech and music.
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