Hearing loss usually comes on gradually but may develop suddenly. The symptoms may include:
Decreased ability to hear any of the following:
Higher pitched sounds
Lower pitched sounds
Speech when there is background noise
Lightheadedness or a sensation of spinning known as vertigo
Ringing, hissing, or roaring sounds in the ears—tinnitus
Some sounds seem too loud
Problems with balance
Feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear (with earwax or fluid)
Some people may not realize that they have hearing loss, especially if it develops over a number of years or if it happens in 1 ear. Common experiences where people begin to notice changes include:
Difficulty hearing on the telephone
Difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise, like in a restaurant, crowd, or at a party
Difficulty following a conversation when 2 or more people are talking at once
Misunderstanding what other people are saying and responding inappropriately
Misunderstanding words that sound similar
Asking people to repeat what they said or speak more slowly, loudly, and clearly
Difficulty understanding the speech of women and children, which is higher pitched
Getting complaints from others that you have the TV or radio volume too high
Withdrawing from conversations because you have trouble hearing
Symptoms of deafness or hearing loss in infants that may be noted:
Does not react to loud sounds or voices
Does not turn head toward you when you talk
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 musical toys
Does not respond to own name, another person’s voice, or telephone ringing
Does not make babbling sounds or know words for common things
Does not look at things when someone talks about them
Does not experiment with own voice
Does not imitate easy words or sounds
Does not focus on common objects or familiar people when asked
Does not know or say even a small number of words
Does not follow simple directions
Other evidence of delayed speech
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 November 21, 2015. Accessed August 17, 2016.
Hearing loss. NIH SeniorHealth website. Available at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/hearingloss/hearinglossdefined/01.html. Accessed August 17, 2016.
Hearing loss and older adults. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/older.aspx. Updated June 3, 2016. Accessed August 17, 2016.
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