Know the Signs of Hearing Loss

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Hearing loss can happen at any time of life and for a number of reasons. Because hearing loss tends to happen gradually, you may not notice right away if you or your child has a problem. Here are some signs that might mean it’s time for a hearing test.

Recognize the signs of hearing loss in adults.

If you’re an adult, you may have hearing loss if you have two or more of the following signs:


  • Asking people to repeat themselves often
  • Complaints from others that you turn the TV volume up too high
  • Difficulty following a conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time
  • Dizziness, pain or ringing in your ears
  • Misunderstanding what others are saying
  • Straining to understand conversation
  • Thinking other people are mumbling
  • Trouble hearing in a noisy background such as in restaurants
  • Trouble hearing over the telephone or hearing better in one ear on the telephone

Watch for signs of hearing loss in children.

Your child may not realize he or she can’t hear well. And very young children may not even be able to tell you about what they’re experiencing. But there are signs to watch for that might point to reduced hearing. They include:

  • A delay in language and speech development
  • Inconsistently responding to sound
  • Not following directions
  • Not responding when you call their name
  • Turning up the volume high on the TV or other electronic devices
  • Unclear speech

There are things you can do to help your hearing.

If you notice any of the signs of hearing loss, get your hearing tested. Your doctor can determine the cause of the problem and help you find ways to hear better.

Try these tips on your own:

  • Ask others to speak more loudly, but let them know they don’t have to shout or speak slowly.
  • Ask people to look at you when speaking. You might find it easier to understand what others are saying if you can see their expressions and lips, and read their body language.
  • Avoid background noise when you can. Excess background noise can make it even harder to hear, so try to sit away from the kitchen at a restaurant or a band playing music.
  • Tell your friends and family you are having a hard time hearing so you have their support.
  • Turn off the radio and TV when you are not listening to them.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Sep 16
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Age-Related Hearing Loss. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/Pages/Age-Related-Hearing-Loss.aspx 
  2. Hearing Loss. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1319 
  3. Hearing Loss. NIH Senior Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/hearingloss/causesriskfactorsprevention/01.html 
  4. Self-Test for Hearing Loss. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Self-Test-for-Hearing-Loss