Woman suffering from hearing loss struggling to hear on the phone.

You don’t suddenly lose your hearing one morning when you wake up. Hearing loss comes gradually over time for most people, particularly when it comes to aging. Age-related hearing loss affects about one in three people in this country. Many of them are over the age of 75 before they recognize a change. Some signs show up earlier, though, and you may not notice there is an issue right away.

Early hearing loss has progressive and subtle signs. Recognizing them as soon as possible is essential to slow down the progression of hearing loss or other health problems related to hearing loss. You can’t identify the signs if you don’t know what they are, though. Consider these eight barely noticeable indicators that you could have hearing loss.

1. Ears Ringing

Okay, this isn’t really a subtle sign, but it is something people tend to ignore unless it’s distracting. Tinnitus, the medical term for the ringing, is a common symptom of hearing loss.

Triggers are a considerable factor in tinnitus so it can be periodic, too. Maybe the ringing only takes place when your tired or when you first get up for example.

Tinnitus is an indicator that something else is happening with your body so it should never be neglected. Besides hearing loss, tinnitus can be caused by high blood pressure, trauma, or a circulatory problem. You won’t know for sure until you consult your doctor, though.

2. Talking on The Phone is Stressful

Here are some common excuses for phone issues:

  • My phone is old.
  • I dropped my phone in water or on the ground.
  • It’s a new phone, and I’m just not used to it yet.

Think about why you dislike using our phone. If you turn the volume all the way up and can’t comprehend what is being said, let someone else test the phone for you. If they can hear the conversation and you can’t, your hearing is the problem.

3. It Seems Like Everybody Mumbles These Days

It used to be only the kids, but lately, the lady on the TV news, your neighbor, and your spouse all have taken to mumbling when they talk to you. It’s difficult to imagine that everyone in your life suddenly has poor enunciation.

It’s much more likely that you might not be hearing words in the same way. One of the first signs that your hearing is changing is when talking sounds like mumbling and consonants such as “S” and “T” drop off.

4. What?

Only when someone calls you out for saying “what?” a lot do you start to recognize that you can’t hear conversations very well anymore. Usually, the people you see every day like coworkers or family are the first to notice you are struggling to hear. Pay attention if someone says something about it.

5. You Hear Some People Just Fine But Not Others

Maybe you can understand the neighbor fine, but when his wife joins the conversation, everything gets messed up. It’s a common sign of sensorineural hearing loss or damage to the nerves that send electrical messages to the brain.

Her voice isn’t as clear because it’s higher pitched. Your daughter or grandchild may present the same problem. Even technology like the microwave or an alarm can throw a loop into things. Those sounds are high pitched, also.

6. Going Out Isn’t as Much Fun as it Used to be

Again, there are those people who mumble, and that’s not fun. Also, being in noisy places makes understanding what people say a big challenge. Something as routine as the AC coming on during dinner or the sound of people talking around you makes it impossible to hear anything.

7. You Feel More Tired Than Usual

Struggling to understand words is tiring. Your brain has to work extra hard to manage what it does hear, so you are more tired than usual. Your other senses might also undergo changes. What’s left for your other senses when your brain is working at 110 percent of its energy to understand words? It’s time to have your ears tested if your eye examination came back normal.

8. That Darn TV

It’s easy to blame the TV or the service provider when you have to keep cranking up the volume, but if this is going on all the time, maybe it’s time for a hearing test. When you have hearing loss it can be difficult to hear dialog. There is the background music confusing things, for example. What about the other stuff in the room like the AC or the ceiling fan? If the volume keeps going up, then your hearing may be failing.

A professional hearing test will tell you for sure and that’s the good news. Hearing aids should get things back to normal if it turns out that your hearing has declined.