9 Signs of Hearing Loss that can Cause Alarm

Hearing loss is different for everyone.  Deficits might be noticed in either one or both ears; while the severity will be different from one person to the next.  However, most of these signs will eventually affect peoples’ day-to-day lives and can serve as warning signs for family and friends as well.
  1. An ongoing and pervasive inability to clearly hear and understand people.

    Asking people to frequently repeat themselves which eventually leads to anger, frustration, and resentment among those closest to you.  In children, this will present itself in the following ways: frequently inattentive and distracted; doesn’t respond to someone speaking or loud noises; doesn’t search out or respond curiously to noise; demonstrates limited speech development – children may stop experimenting with sounds or fail to progress past indistinct babbling or chattering; exhibits difficulty learning or staying focused; repeated ear infections. In most cases, recurring episodes of otitis media during childhood are painless. However, parents may notice change in behavior as listed above.
  2. Noticeable difficulty being able to differentiate sounds in noisy, crowded places.

    Described as the “din of the crowd”, someone with hearing loss will find it increasingly difficult to hear others close to them without being distracted by everything going on around them.
  3. Being overwhelmed by or hypersensitive to extremely loud and sudden noises.

    That can cause severe pain and an anxious or startled reaction. Such noises might include: loud music; fireworks; heavy equipment in operation; amplified sound in theaters or auditoriums.
  4. A prolonged sensation of buzzing or ringing in the ears.

    Tinnitus is annoying in milder instances, but more severe cases can cause sleep issues as well as anxiety and depression if not treated.
  5. Trouble distinguishing certain sounds or consonants (i.e., p and t, s and f) during normal conversation.

    When listening to people converse, it may become difficult to differentiate sounds leading to confusion and embarrassment.  Often people with hearing loss will try to cover up their inability to understand usually leading to further problems and misunderstanding.
  6. Inability to hear televisions or radios unless turned way up often leading to complaints by family or neighbors.

  7. Because of the inability to communicate effectively, people with hearing loss will decline social invitations leading to isolation, loneliness, and depression.

    Especially in the elderly, this can have catastrophic results in terms of mental health and wellbeing.  Their loss of community can be overwhelming and affect their overall health, leading to additional health-related issues and even shortening of their lives.
  8. Fatigue or tiredness at the end of the day after expending a great deal of energy to concentrate and focus.

    Being able to participate in conversations or even just watch a movie can lead someone with hearing loss to feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
  9. A feeling of fullness in the ear or the sensation that the ear is plugged up.

    Usually affecting only one ear at a time, this feeling may grow slowly or come on suddenly and can cause a great deal of pain.  

Types and Causes of Hearing Loss

Sensorineural Hearing Loss (inner ear)—This type of hearing loss is most often related to age, but can be present at birth as a congenital defect or following injury.  

Besides age and acute injury, these are some additional possible causes of injury to the inner ear:   
  • Excessive noise exposure – loud music, working in the construction field
  • Health-related issues - diabetes, exceedingly high fevers, tumors
  • Viral infections - meningitis, mumps, measles, rubella, AIDS
  • Genetics
  • Certain medications (Ototoxicity) that may include some antibiotics, diuretics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS)
Conductive Hearing Loss (middle or outer ear)—When the ear’s ability to conduct sound is reduced, it is often the result of a blockage or buildup.  Once diagnosed, there may be a surgical or medical treatment prescribed.  Following are some of the causes of conductive hearing loss:
  • Multiple or chronic infections or fluid in the middle ear (otitis media)
  • Wax build-up
  • Abnormal bone growth in the middle ear (Otosclerosis)
  • Injury to the eardrum

Solutions and Treatment

Once the type and cause of a hearing deficit has been determined, it then becomes easy to treat and may include the following:  
  • Medical treatment—From wax removal to ear tube surgery (myringotomy)
  • Hearing aids—Electronic amplification devices
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Display systems, such as TV closed captioning
  • Cochlear Implants—Defined as a neuroprosthetic device, cochlear implants are surgically implanted and directly stimulate the auditory nerves creating a sense of sound.

Identifying a progressively worsening hearing loss can be alarming, but swift intervention is critical.  Interestingly, people can wait years before seeking medical help which can lead to social isolation and loss of community.  With today’s available solutions, quick intervention is only an audiologist’s visit away.

Does a friend or family member show one or more of these signals? Or perhaps signs of hearing loss resonate with yourself? In either case, please book an appointment today with our specialist clinics for a full hearing health assessment. We look forward to hearing from you!