Common Hearing Loss Symptoms

Are you experiencing hearing loss?

Hearing loss can happen to anyone. Today more than 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Since it often happens gradually, the early symptoms can be subtle or easy to miss. 

 Dr. Hilary Steele

Dr. Hilary Steele, Au.D.

Audiologist, Director of Professional Development

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Early symptoms of hearing loss

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. Here are some common, early signs of hearing loss to watch for. If you're experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it may be time for a hearing test. Hearing loss progression generally starts with one or more of the following experiences. 

1. Others complain about volume levels

Whether you're watching TV, listening to music or talking on the phone, you might think that the noise level is perfectly normal until others inform you that the volume is too high. Obviously, some people are bound to have more sensitive hearing, but when several people tell you the same thing in a variety of situations, there's a good chance that you could be struggling to hear. So if your family, friends and coworkers have voiced the opinion that you talk too loudly and your music and television habits follow suit, it may be time for a hearing test.

2. You can't understand what people are saying

When hearing loss sets in, you'll probably find that you experience all kinds of misunderstandings when people are speaking to you. This is a very common early sign of hearing loss. This can often lead to a string of misinterpretations and can cause miscommunication between you and those you’re speaking to. If you often find yourself mistaking what people say to you, hearing loss could definitely be to blame.

3. You have trouble listening in crowds

One of the first signs that you're suffering from hearing loss is when you have difficulty following a conversation in crowds. If you often have trouble differentiating between who’s speaking to you in a noisy environment, you could be in the early stages of hearing loss.

4. You hear ringing in your ears

In truth, tinnitus is not necessarily a symptom of hearing loss, but the two often go hand in hand, especially if hearing loss is related to noise damage. If you notice ringing in your ears, you'll want to get it checked out by a hearing care professional. You should also take the opportunity to get a hearing test, just in case you have both conditions. If you have hearing loss, studies have shown hearing aids, like those from Miracle-Ear, can both relieve your tinnitus and help you hear.

5. “What?" has become your catchphrase

Asking others to constantly repeat themselves is not only frustrating to those trying to tell you something, but it can start to make you feel uncomfortable as well. It is for this exact reason that people suffering from hearing loss often resort to nodding and smiling when people talk, even if they're not catching a word.

Social signs of hearing loss

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.

  • Social bluffing: 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.

  • Lip-reading and body language: 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.

Take action against hearing loss

If several of these early signs and symptoms of hearing loss sound familiar, you may have hearing loss. It’s okay—you’re not alone. The first step you should take if you feel you may be suffering from hearing loss is to have your hearing checked by a Miracle-Ear Hearing Instrument Specialist. They'll help determine the degree of hearing loss, if any, and whether hearing aids could help. Thanks to the wide availability of hearing aid technology, hearing loss doesn’t have to control your life.


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