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Signs of hearing loss

The human ear is one of our most advanced and perceptive sensory organs. Just as other parts of our body show the effects of wear and tear as we age, so do our hearing systems. Fortunately, there is help available when signs of hearing loss start to appear.

6 early signs of hearing loss

The signs of hearing loss may develop slowly over time and may be difficult to notice.
Being aware of the signs can help you to be proactive in taking steps to improve your hearing.

1. Difficulty following conversations
You have difficulty following group conversations (or when background noise is present).
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2. Phone conversations are unclear
You have trouble following phone conversations in quiet and noisy places.
3. People seem to be mumbling
You often ask people to repeat themselves or people sound like they are mumbling.
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4. Difficulty locating sounds
You have difficulty locating where sounds are coming from.
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5. Signs of tinnitus
You experience ringing or buzzing sounds in your ears.
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6. Turning up the TV too loud
Your friends and family say you turn the television up too loud.
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Test yourself: Should I get a hearing test?

Answer the 4 questions below to see if you should consider getting a hearing test.

Question 1 – Around the table
Do you have trouble following conversations, when there are 4 or more people present?
Have you received advice from your family or friends to get your hearing tested?
Do you ever struggle to understand what others are saying because you cannot hear properly?
Do you find yourself turning up the TV or radio even when the volume is loud enough for others?

Your Result:

A hearing test is relevant for you

Your answers indicate that you experience symptoms of hearing loss. We strongly recommend booking a hearing test in one of our clinics.

The result is an indication. An in-person hearing test can determine if you have a hearing loss.

Book your free hearing test:

Your Result:

A hearing test seems relevant for you

Your answers indicate that you experience some symptoms of hearing loss. We recommend booking a hearing test in one of our clinics.

The result is an indication. An in-person hearing test can determine if you have a hearing loss.

Book your free hearing test:

Your Result:

It cannot be determined here if a hearing test is relevant for you

Your answers do not indicate that you experience symptoms of hearing loss. However, if you experience trouble hearing, we recommend booking a hearing test in one of our clinics.

The result is an indication. An in-person hearing test can determine if you have a hearing loss.

Book your free hearing test:

Step 1 of 3

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Pay attention to early symptoms of hearing loss

Since hearing loss occurs gradually, it may be difficult to notice when your hearing begins to decline. In many cases, friends and family may notice it before you do. 

We recommend that you educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of hearing loss so that you can seek treatment and reap the benefits of better hearing. When you visit a local Hidden Hearing clinic for an in-depth hearing evaluation, a hearing care expert will identify your level of hearing ability and recommend the optimal treatment option for your hearing needs. 

Take online hearing test Hearing loss types

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Early recognition may improve your quality of life

Hearing loss can increase over time if left untreated. It is therefore important to seek treatment as soon as you recognise any early signs of hearing loss. Doing so will reduce the risk of experiencing the consequences of untreated hearing loss, such as:

  • Missing out on conversations with loved ones, friends, and colleagues each day.
  • Feeling left out or unable to hear in social environments.
  • Feelings of isolation or depression.
Book a FREE hearing test Untreated hearing loss

Types of hearing loss: Signs and symptoms

The most common type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss, and it is mainly caused by the natural ageing process and/or extensive exposure to loud sounds. It is important to understand the difference between sensorineural hearing loss and other types of hearing loss in order understand the best treatment options available.

Signs of sensorineural hearing loss
Signs of conductive hearing loss Signs of sudden hearing loss
Difficulty following conversations involving more than two people Speech and other sounds seem distant or muffled Unexplained rapid loss of hearing
Difficulty following conversation when there’s background noise Pain, pressure or discharge from the ear Loss of hearing all at once or over a couple of days
Difficulty understanding phone conversations A feeling of “fullness” It is almost always experienced in one ear only
Sounds seem unclear or people sound like they are mumbling Decrease in the volume of the sounds (but the sounds are not distorted) It can go away by itself, or be reversed by medical treatment
Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds   Vertigo
Ringing in ears (tinnitus)    

Sudden hearing loss: Seek help immediately
If you experience sudden hearing loss, you should seek medical attention immediately! It is more likely that you will regain some of your hearing back if you treat this type of hearing loss within the first 72 hours. 

Levels of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be categorised by severity level. Your level of hearing ability is measured in decibels (dB), referring to how loud sounds need to be for you to hear them.
Hearing loss levels

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Normal hearing (≤25 dB)
No perceived hearing loss symptoms.
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Mild hearing loss (26-40 dB)
Soft speech is difficult to hear, especially in noisy environments.
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Moderate hearing loss (41-60 dB)
Following a conversation in noisy environments or group settings is problematic.
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Severe hearing loss (61-80 dB)
People have to speak loudly for you to hear them.
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Profound hearing loss (≥81 dB)
Hearing is challenging in most environments.
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Hearing loss treatment options

Fortunately, there is a wealth of hearing loss treatments available to suit all types of hearing loss needs.

The most likely and common treatment for hearing loss is wearing hearing aids. In some cases, a cochlear implant (CI) or bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) might be recommended. Surgery or other medical solutions may also be recommended in some cases.

Regardless of the best treatment option for you, the sooner you seek help, the better your outcome will be.

Book a FREE hearing test Hearing loss treatment

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Did you know?

Today’s hearing aids are more technologically advanced and smaller than ever. 

Some of them are practically invisible and, despite their small size, they offer excellent sound quality - even in difficult listening situations.

Book a FREE hearing test
Darren McKeown, audiologist

“Act early, when you start noticing changes in your hearing or feel people are not as clear as they used to be. Get in touch with your nearest Hidden Hearing clinic for a free screening.”

My name is Darren, I became an audiologist because I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, and Audiology caught my attention. On completing my studies, I began working with Hidden Hearing, and I can honestly say that it is the job of my dreams. It's challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and I get to make a positive difference, changing people's hearing and quality of life.
It’s wonderful to see patients maintain a stable degree of hearing function without decline. This was the case for one of my patients who has been attending appointments with me for the past 6 years. It validates the treatment I’ve prescribed and the 6-monthly monitoring and adjustments I’ve undertaken when treating their hearing loss. Each time a new audiogram is produced I review the data and hearing instrument usage providing the best solutions to fine tune his hearing aids.

I am saddened when a patient with hearing loss defers treatment. I appreciate that it takes time for patients to come to terms with their diagnosis, and hearing loss is stigmatised. As an audiologist, I am all too well aware of the impact of hearing loss on a patients social, psychological and mental wellbeing; however, the patient will ultimately decide what is best for them. Often, patients take time to process their diagnosis, make an informed decision and return for treatment. It thrills me to know they are taking control of their hearing health. It could be something very simple to fix like a build-up of wax or it could be a sudden loss which requires immediate attention.