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6 signs and symptoms of hearing loss

The symptoms of hearing loss depend on the type, degree and cause of hearing loss.

If you recognize any of the below symptoms, we recommend getting a free hearing test at a hearing clinic near you.

Image shows people talking in group
1. Difficulty following conversations
Difficulty following conversations involving more than two people or when there’s background noise
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2. Phone conversations are unclear
You have trouble following phone conversations in both quiet and noisy surroundings
Image shows woman holds hand by her ear
3. People seem to be mumbling
You often ask people to repeat themselves. Sounds seem unclear or people sound like they are mumbling
Image shows woman struggling to locate sound
4. Difficulty locating sounds
You have difficulty locating where sounds are coming from
Image shows woman suffering from tinnitus
5. Signs of tinnitus
You experience ringing or buzzing sounds in your ears (called tinnitus)
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6. Turning up the TV too loud
Your friends and family say you turn the television up too loud

Do you recognize any of the above signs of hearing loss?

If you or someone you know can relate to any of the signs of hearing loss listed above, then it may be an indication of hearing impairment, and you should get your hearing tested.

Get a free hearing test

Nico hearing test

Ask yourself: Do you need a hearing test?

Answer the four 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 four 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:

We recommend a hearing test

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

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

Book a free hearing test  Request a call back

Your Result:

We recommend a hearing test

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

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

Book a free hearing test  Request a call back

Your Result:

We could not determine whether you need a hearing test

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

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

Book a free hearing test  Request a call back

Step 1 of 6

Degrees of hearing loss

The degree of hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss and is generally categorized as either mild, moderate, severe, or profound.

It can be measured in decibels (dB), referring to how loud sounds need to be for you to hear them.

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

Types of hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss
The most common type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. It can be caused by damage to tiny hair-like cells in the inner ear or damage to the auditory nerve. Often, this type of hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids.

Understanding the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Sensorineural hearing loss is a common type of hearing loss that can lead to permanent hearing loss. It occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve, often resulting from age-related changes, ear diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, head injury, and infections. Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is a common cause of sensorineural hearing loss, as the delicate hair cells in the inner ear can degenerate over time. Exposure to loud noise can also cause sensorineural hearing loss by damaging the hair cells or auditory nerve.

The symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss include difficulty hearing soft sounds, trouble understanding speech, tinnitus (hissing sounds in the ears), and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears. If left untreated, sensorineural hearing loss can progress and lead to further hearing problems and even permanent hearing loss.

There are different types of hearing loss including sensorineural hearing loss (damage to the inner ear), conductive hearing loss (damage to the outer and/or middle ear) and mixed hearing loss (damage to the inner ear and outer and/or middle ear). Hearing aids are the most common form of treatment, as they can amplify sounds and improve hearing ability. Cochlear implants are another option for individuals with severe hearing loss, as they can bypass damaged hair cells and stimulate the auditory nerve directly. 

Conductive hearing loss
This type of hearing loss comes from a mechanical problem in the middle or outer part of the ear. Conductive hearing loss can also be caused by an obstruction of some sort in the canal of the ear, such as earwax preventing sound from getting to the ear drum. It can be treated using hearing aids or other medical options.

Mixed hearing loss
Mixed hearing loss is when both aspects of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss are present.

Types of hearing loss

Facts about hearing loss

Hearing loss is more common than you might think.

Hearing loss is the 3rd most common health condition among adults
Hearing loss is the 3rd most common health condition among adult1
Over 50% of the adults ages 40 and 79 in Canada have measurable hearing loss2
60 percent of Canadians aged 19 to 79 have a hearing health problem
Overall, 60% of the Canadians aged 19 to 79 have a hearing health problem: audiometrically measured hearing loss, tinnitus (past year) or both conditions.3

“Hearing loss does not get the recognition it deserves. It is one of the five senses. You can watch a TV program on mute and you won’t get the context. But you can listen to a program and not watch it and your senses will follow along. That is the difference hearing makes.”
Dr Jillian Price - Chief Audiologist, HearingLife Canada

What causes hearing loss?

Understanding the source of your hearing issues gives our professionals insight into your needs, so we can advise you with the best options for your specific treatment. That's why we encourage you to speak with our professionals as soon as you notice any hearing difficulties.

Common causes of hearing loss include:

  • Aging
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Injury
  • Viral infections (such as measles or mumps)
  • Wax buildup
  • Ototoxic drugs (medications that damage hearing)
  • Genetics

Causes of hearing loss

Tip from an audiologist

If you are looking for treatment for hearing impairment, we advice you to begin the process as soon as possible.

This is key to improving your quality of life, so that you can enjoy your favourite activities again – such as engaging in conversations with friends and family or watching your favourite TV show again.

Book a FREE hearing test

image shows two audiologist talking

Treating hearing loss

Hearing loss treatments include: ear wax removal, hearing aids, surgery, cochlear implants or bone anchored hearing solutions.

The best solution for your hearing loss will depend on:

  • Type of hearing loss
  • Degree of hearing loss
  • Cause of hearing loss
  • Your budget
  • Lifestyle, personal interests, cosmetic preferences and communication needs

Hearing loss treatment Online hearing test

“We hear with our brains. They take all the input from our ears and translate it. If those pathways don’t get stimulated with sound, the longer they are deprived, the more difficult it is to adapt to hearing aids in the future,”
Katie Koebel - Audiologist and Senior Manager, Audiology

5 steps to improving your hearing

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1. Learn how to recognize the signs of hearing loss
Signs of hearing loss
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2. Schedule your FREE hearing test in a clinic near you
Book hearing test
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3. Select a pair of hearing aids and receive a risk-free trial
Free, 30-day trial
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4. Learn about payment plans and subsidy programs
Hearing aid financing
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5. Hear well and live well. Receive extensive aftercare
Aftercare service

Hearing Aids: A Vital Solution to Hearing Loss

Hearing aids are essential tools for managing hearing loss and can provide several benefits, including improved communication, increased social engagement, and better quality of life. By addressing hearing loss with hearing aids, individuals can experience significant improvements in their overall well-being and lead active, fulfilling lives.

When selecting hearing aids, several factors should be considered to ensure they meet the individual's specific needs and preferences. The type and severity of hearing loss, lifestyle and personal preferences, budget, compatibility with other devices, and fit and comfort are all important factors to consider.

Better communication is one of the most significant positive impacts of hearing aids for individuals with hearing loss. Hearing aids can help individuals hear and understand speech and sounds more clearly, leading to more effective communication with family, friends, and colleagues. With improved communication, individuals can feel more confident in social settings, leading to increased social engagement and participation in activities they may have previously avoided due to hearing difficulties.

In addition to better communication and increased social engagement, addressing hearing loss with hearing aids can lead to enhanced overall well-being. It can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression associated with hearing difficulties. It can also lead to improved cognitive function and overall brain health.

To ensure that you find the hearing aid that best suits your needs, we recommend that you consult with one of our hearing professionals. Book a free 30-day trial at HearingLife to find the right device for your needs and take the first step towards better hearing.

What happens at a hearing test?

Watch the video and hear our audiologist Timothy Humpidge explain what to expect when you visit a hearing clinic and receive a hearing test.

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You lose your hearing without noticing it.

White screen with text: What happens at the clinic.


From booking an appointment to getting a hearing aid

So, no one is telling you that you are losing it. You do not know what you cannot hear. So, my job is trying to help them through that process, make them feel comfortable. Do not make them feel like there is something medically wrong with them and make them understand that they are the same as everyone else around them, but they have made the right decision to come and talk to a professional and get the right advice

Zoom in: the audiologist is sitting in the clinic and talking.

They come down and they are welcomed. We have some amazing branch coordinators and receptionists.

Elderly couple entering an Audika clinic and being welcomed by a receptionist.

I do not want them to feel like they are going into the dentist surgery or something that is scary.

This is not a scary process; this is just a way of understanding what is going on with you.

People are suddenly becoming aware that hearing loss is normal and natural. So, what do I do about it? I go and see someone in Audika

The woman checks in for her appointment at the reception and is guided into the waiting room.

And then I hope when they meet me for the first time, they feel “oh, that is not too scary.”

The audiologist greets the client and spouse and shows them to his office.

And I then make a big job of making them feel comfortable with me and settle them down.

I do not leap in and start putting stuff into their ears, but I talk to them and get to know them

Close up clip of the audiologist sitting in the clinic and talking.

I then try to explain what I am going to do.

Firstly, just checking their general health because that is very important as well.

Poor health will have an effect on your hearing.

The audiologist is checking the client’s medical records on a tablet.

I then basically explain how your hearing works. Remembering very simply that the ears are a transportation system

The audiologist uses a model of an ear to explain how we hear.

So, we go through checking that their ears are doing their job. And then in that process I will get some pointers to where I need to look a little bit more thoroughly

The audiologist checks the client’s ear.

And then we will do a slightly more scientific test, just to check each ear individually and see what the brain is hearing independently

The audiologist performs a hearing test to check the client’s hearing.


At that point I then graphically explain it to them. This is what your hearing is and why you are not hearing whatever you have explained.

So, it is a very simple picture for them to look at and think “ah, yes of course that makes sense.”

The audiologist explains graphical findings on the hearing tests.

And we can then talk about the solution that fits that particular need

The audiologist presents various hearing aids to the client.

I will demonstrate the hearing aids to them. Give them the chance to compare before and after. So, we do a little word test. How you are hearing before, how you are hearing after. And the gain that comes from the spouse being there because that is the most crucial voice.



The client is fitted with a pair of hearing aids and engages in a conversation with the audiologist and the spouse.

And at that point they can make that informed decision: Yes, that is going to make massive changes to my life.


You put it in your years, wear it all day, every day without fail. Your brain will become retrained and you will start to hear better.

That is all we need to worry about. What we will do is to see you regularly in the future. Service them, check that they are working. If at any point you have a problem or are noticing a change in your hearing, you come straight back to us and we find out why it did.


The testing of your hearing is vital because it gives a benchmark of where you are today, and we will test it again in the future. So, if there is a change naturally in your hearing, which there will be, we can see that and reprogram the hearing aids, so they become a long-term solution to your problem and something you do not have to worry about.

Close up clip of the audiologist sitting in the clinic and talking

There is really no need for button pressing nor controlling them anymore. They do it all for you. They adapt. But we are there if you need us.

The audiologist shows the client out of the clinic.


The elderly couple walks out of the clinic into the street.


Audika logo


Book a free hearing test today.

Image shows woman having a hearing aid placed behind her ear

How to prevent hearing loss

While there is no cure for loss of hearing, there are steps you can take to prevent it and reduce your chances of developing hearing loss over the course of your lifetime.

Learn more about healthy hearing practices and protection solutions that can help keep hearing loss at bay.

Preventing hearing loss

FAQ about hearing loss


1. Kochkin, Sergei (2009) ”MarkeTrak VIII: 25-Year Trends in the Hearing Health Market” The Hearing Review, vol. 16, no. 11.
2. McCormack, A. & Fortnum, H. Why do people fitted with hearing aids not wear them? Int J Audiol. 2013 May; 52(5): 360–368.
3. Chisolm, T. H., Johnson, C. E., Danhauer, J. L., Portz, L. J. P., Abrams, H. B., Lesner, S., … Newman, C. W. (2007). A systematic review of health-related quality of life and hearing aids: Final report of the American Academy of Audiology Task Force on the Health-Related Quality of Life Benefits of Amplification in Adults. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 18(2), 151-183
4. Masterson EA, Bushnell PT, Themann CL, Morata TC. Hearing Impairment Among Noise-Exposed Workers — United States, 2003–2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:389–394. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6515a2
5. Haile et al. Hearing loss prevalence and years lived with disability, 1990–2019: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. The Lancet. 2021 March. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00516-X