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Signs and symptoms of hearing loss

How to recognize the signs of hearing loss and how to act on them.

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.
Hearing loss
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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
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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 (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
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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

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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 HearingLife clinic for an in-depth hearing evaluation, a hearing care professional will identify your level of hearing ability and recommend the most 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 recognize 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 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 aging 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 in 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 or buzzing in the ears, called 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 categorized 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

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
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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, offer excellent sound quality - even in difficult listening situations.

Book a FREE hearing test

FAQ about signs and symptoms of hearing loss