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Hearing Loss: Early Signs and Causes

Updated on August 8, 2013

What Are the Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Once in a while everyone has difficulty hearing due to outside influences. But, if you get the feeling that you may be losing your hearing or having some level of hearing loss, you may want to check out these early warning signs of hearing loss:


What are Early Warning Signs that You May be Losing Your Hearing

  • You ask people to repeat what they have said
  • You respond incorrectly to what people are saying
  • You can hear what is being said, but cannot understand
  • You have a hard time understanding at restaurants, in the car, or other loud places
  • You can't understand your children, or grandchildren
  • You can't hear very successfully at the theater or at the movie
  • You find you hear better in one ear than the other when using the phone
  • You can't understand when in group settings
  • You have ringing in your ears, or experience pain or dizziness
  • You have the TV on louder than other people
  • You need to see a person's lips to understand the conversation
  • You turn your head to one side or the other to hear what is being said

Why Didn't I notice My Hearing Loss Sooner

Why is Denial Such a Big Issue with Early Hearing Loss

Usually hearing loss happens over a period of time, which causes people to delay getting help for the problem on an average of six years. Sometimes people just simply don't notice the early signs of hearing loss they have been experiencing. Most of the time however, and unfortunately, people find it difficult to admit they have a problem, or just avoid it all together. If you are in denial, it may be because you think hearing loss is due to aging, or has the stigma of being a disability attached.

In many cases, the people being effected by a hearing loss are in fact, family and friends, and not the person with the actual problem. Hearing loss can be more apparent to those you live and socialize with, than it is to you. Because of this, the individual who is losing his/her hearing may tend to blame those around them. This can cause stressful conditions for all concerned.

Why is it so Easy to Ignore Early Hearing Loss Symptoms

The Pain of No-Pain Hearing Loss

Since most hearing loss is absent of any physical pain, people who are hard of hearing will actually delay treating it. This is especially true when these same individuals are contending with physically painful conditions, such as heart or chronic joint problems. Just because hearing loss can be painless on a physical level, doesn't mean it is not painful in other ways.

Hearing Loss Can be Emotionally Painful

Hearing loss can be extremely painful on an emotional level. This emotional pain can show up as having feelings of decreased social skills, intentional isolation, depression, and plain old embarrassment. It can also bring emotional pain, fear, and frustration to family members who find successful communications with you, to be quickly slipping away.

Admitting You Have a Hearing Loss

Getting Help with a Hearing Loss is a Priority

When the frustration of straining, tuning out and getting tired builds up because you can't hear well, you may need to face the facts, and admit you have a hearing loss. It is time to see a hearing loss specialist to help determine what type of hearing problem you are encountering. Some hearing problems can be fixed through medical or surgical intervention. But most hearing losses can be helped to some degree, by wearing a hearing aid.

Communication Keeps You Healthy

Keeping in touch with family and friends is a vital measure in staying happy, healthy, and engaged in life. Good communication is a major part of maintaining this connection. This is most true for those who are older and aging and experiencing a hearing loss along the way. This is why getting treatment for your hearing loss must become your highest priority in life. Don't let your family and friends slip away because your hearing loss is getting in their way.

What You Think Really Does Matter!

Do you or someone in your family have a hearing loss?

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What is Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss is an Invisible Disability

No wheelchairs, red-tipped expandable canes, and no crutches or braces to tell an outsider that you have a hearing loss. But, did you know that hearing loss is the most prevalent, least recognized, and least understood physical disability? And get this:

"One out of every ten people have a hearing loss."

"At age sixty-five, one in every three people has some degree of hearing loss, and the incidence is even higher among those of more advanced years.*

*"Hearing Loss and Older Adults," National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders [cited Aug 4, 2002]

Degrees of Hearing Loss: Loudness and Clarity

Hearing Loss as Measured in Degrees of Loudness

LOUDNESS - A person who has a difficult time with loudness can generally understand speech if it is created loud enough. Sadly, no matter how loud some sounds are, they may never be heard at all, and here is why:

As with sight, in hearing losses we find varying degrees. These can range from mild to profound. To what degree of hearing loss someone is experiencing is referred to in decibels (dB), which is a measurement for how loud something is.

Degree of Hearing Loss

Chart Divided by Degree of Hearing Loss per ANSI 1989 Standard.
Chart Divided by Degree of Hearing Loss per ANSI 1989 Standard. | Source

Measuring Decibel Range in Hearing

Mild Hearing Loss: A mild hearing range (26-45 dB), may cause you to have difficulty hearing and understanding someone who has a soft speaking voice, conversations in noisy places, or when a person is talking from a distance.

Moderate Hearing Loss: A moderate hearing range (46-65 dB), means you may have difficulty understanding conversations in a quiet background situation as well.

Severe Hearing Loss: A severe hearing range (66-90 dB), you might experience difficulty understanding conversations no matter where, or how close you are.

Profound Hearing Loss: A profound hearing loss (anything greater than 90 dB), might prevent you from hearing even loud speech or sounds within your immediate environment.

A Note About Frequency and Hearing Loss:

Frequency: The pitch, or frequency, is vital to understanding speech. This is measured in hertz (Hz). A person with hearing loss may find it hard to hear consonants like th, s, and f, while hearing just fine at low-frequencies sounds like oo, m, and ah. This is because the hearing loss older people encounter is generally in the higher frequencies.

Hearing Loss as Measured in Clarity

Decibels are not the only way hearing is measured, and is only one half of the problem; sound can also seem distorted. What this means is that, even though you can hear the sound, you are unable to understand it.

CLARITY - An individual who has a clarity problem hears sounds as unclear or can't understand the sounds even when amplified. The majority of people who have hearing problems find that loudness and clarity both, are at issue.

Comments for "Hearing Loss: Early Signs and Causes"

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  • Teresa Coppens profile image

    Teresa Coppens 

    6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Both my parents are in their 80's and both are suffering from hearing loss. My dad has just found a hearing aid that works for him. My mom should be looking into one but I don't think she is ready yet. Great hub Indie!

  • Ms Dee profile image

    Deidre Shelden 

    6 years ago from Texas, USA

    Excellent! This helps me understand better why a colleague of mine was so resistant to getting a hearing aid. He did not feel the pain of being unable to hear us or of our having to almost shout for him to hear. Hearing aids can be such a hassle, too. The guideline for evaluating the level of loss helps me now gauge better whether a loved one of mine has serious hearing loss.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    6 years ago from Northern, California

    theclevercat~ It can be really frustrating when someone is not aware of their hearing loss. It has to be even more frustrating for them. I got my dad a blinking phone and doorbell, as well as a special headset for the TV. I gotta tell ya, our relationship improved two-fold! I don't reside with my father, but even visiting was a fairly "loud" struggle. Now, we have a better understanding of each others concerns...he does things my way and everything has worked out just fine! (he-he, kidding of course). I would do anything for my Da'!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story here!


  • theclevercat profile image

    Rachel Vega 

    6 years ago from Massachusetts

    Jeepers, that's a lot of info! Great job.

    For me, the worst part is *knowing* that I'm not mumbling and having to constantly leave messages on my parents' phone or just email since their tv is turned up so loudly at night that they don't even know the phone is ringing.

    Voted up and definitely useful. Hearing loss runs in the family and I going to keep my eye on them! Or, my ear. Heh.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    6 years ago from Northern, California

    Hi Pamela99~ So nice to see you here, I trust you and your faimly are doing well, and that you are fully recovered from a while back.

    I have a tiny hearing loss in my right ear from a preassure injury years ago. I don't (yet) require a hearing device, but I can tell it won't be long until I will. (Although my family would possibly say I need one now).

    I have been told that it takes a while to get accustomed to hearing aids. My Da' has worn them for 30 years and still finds them odd, only getting somewhat comfortable with them in the last 10 years or so. I don't think he had a very good fitting done when he first went in, so the molds made for his devices may be the problem. I hope your hubby gains some comfort with his long before my dad did!

    Thank you for sharing your remarks here, Pam!


  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    6 years ago from Northern, California

    Lady_E~ Thanks for making it by to check out a few hearing loss signs. I am glad you approve. Many blessings, Namaste.


  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    6 years ago from Northern, California

    fphberj48! You are correct, some hearing conditions can run in gentic make-up and be passed to our children.

    I am glad for your husband (that he's hearing loss free), but I am betting that his selective hearing loss is a genetic trait as well! I know the men in my family ALL have this same condition!

    I enjoyed your comments very much!


  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    6 years ago from Northern, California

    ThoughtSandwiches (fun name BTW)~ How funny that you were certain it was all their fault; my dad would agree with you entirely!

    It must be so very frustrating when the slow loss of hearing fools us into thinking external changes, rather than internal ones, are the reason for our struggle. Having a visible difficulty that everyone can recognize is hard enough, but having an invisible one like, hearing loss, must be daunting.

    I sure appreciate that you shared your thoughts here!


  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Very informative hub. I seem to have some hearing loss in one ear but I don't have many of those signs yet, but my husband does. He has hearing aids and doesn't like them. Good hub, rated up and useful, interesting.

  • Lady_E profile image


    6 years ago from London, UK

    Thanks for sharing such useful info. Very informative. I didn't know it happened over a period of time. I wish you well. Take care.

  • fpherj48 profile image


    6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    K9....Hearing loss is a growing issue with so many people, especially over 60. I discovered just recently that there is a genetic factor or to a degree, hearing problems can run in families.

    I was concerned about my husband's hearing for awhile. Until I realized after mentioning this to several female friends, he just has the classic "selective hearing" most husbands have.

    A very educational hub. Up++

  • ThoughtSandwiches profile image


    6 years ago from Reno, Nevada


    I have serious hearing loss and it became apparent last year when my roommates and friends had an intervention. They were fearful for their own hearing (what with) the TV blaring.'s funny the point you made...I was PRETTY SURE it was all their fault for mumbling and such.

    Voting Up and sharing for the hearing impaired...and their poor friends.



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