Hearing loss often happens slowly over time. It may also be sudden in some people. Problems in adults may be:
High pitched sounds
Low pitched sounds
Speech when there is background noise
Lightheadedness or a feeling of spinning known as vertigo
Ringing, hissing, or roaring sounds in the ears known as tinnitus
Sounds that seem too loud
Problems with balance
A feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear
Some people may not know that they have hearing loss. This is common when it happens slowly over time or when it only happens in one ear. They may notice:
Problems hearing on the telephone
Problems keeping track of a conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time
Misunderstanding what other people are saying and responding the wrong way
Misunderstanding words that sound the same
Asking people to repeat what they said or speak more slowly, loudly, and clearly
Having the TV or radio volume too high
Not entering conversations because of problems hearing
Symptoms of deafness or hearing loss in infants may be:
0 to 3 months:
Does not react to loud sounds or voices
Does not turn head toward someone who is talking
3 to 6 months:
Does not turn toward a new sound
Does not respond to changes in tone of voice
Does not imitate own voice or make babbling or cooing sounds
Does not respond to rattles or toys that make music
6 to 10 months:
Does not respond to own name, another person’s voice, or telephone ringing
Does not make babbling sounds
Does not look at things when someone talks about them
10 to 15 months:
Is not playful with own voice
Does not mimic easy words or sounds
Does not focus on known objects or people when asked
Problems speaking like his or her peers
15 to 18 months:
Does not know or say even a small number of words
Does not follow simple directions
Has more signs of problems speaking like his or her peers
Hearing loss. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Hearing-Loss.aspx. Updated August 1, 2009. Accessed October 25, 2019.
Hearing loss and older adults. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) website. Available at: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing-loss-older-adults. Updated July 17, 2018. Accessed October 25, 2019.
Stachler RJ, Chandrasekhar SS, et al; American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF). Clinical practice guideline: sudden hearing loss. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Mar;146(3 Suppl):S1-35.
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