Triangular sign with an exclamation point in front of blue background

If you have hearing loss, you might imagine it would be obvious, right?

Actually, that’s exactly the issue; many people presume it would. However, even though severe or abrupt hearing loss is easy to recognize, mild to moderate developing hearing loss can be far too subtle to observe. That’s why, on average, people will wait more than five years from the onset of symptoms to search for help.

Imagine hearing loss as a slow leak in a tire. It’s challenging to observe the day to day changes, and it’s only when the tire goes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you choose to act.

Regrettably, while tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be partially restored, but the earlier you deal with your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll recover.

So how can you notice the signs and symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Below are some of the hidden signs that suggest you should consider a hearing examination.

1. Difficulties hearing particular sounds

Oftentimes people think that hearing loss affects all types of sounds. Therefore, if you can hear some sounds normally, you assume you can hear all sounds normally.

Do not get stuck into this mode of reasoning. The truth is that hearing loss mostly impacts higher-frequency sounds. You may discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for example, because of the higher pitch.

This may lead you to believe that the people you can’t hear are mumbling, when the reality is, you have high-frequency hearing loss.

2. Depending on context to understand

Someone is talking from behind you and you can’t comprehend what they’re saying unless you turn around and face them. You have to rely on body language, and possibly lip reading, for additional information to fill in the blanks.

Speech is comprised of an array of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the lower frequencies. The problem for those with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants transmit the most meaning yet are the most challenging to hear.

If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is much like reading a sentence with missing letters. More often than not, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may find yourself replying inappropriately or asking people to repeat themselves frequently. You may also experience difficulty hearing on the phone.

3. Difficulty hearing in loud surroundings

With mild hearing loss, you can usually decipher what other people are saying, albeit with a lot of effort. As soon as background noise is presented, on the other hand, the task usually becomes overwhelming.

You may discover that it’s difficult to hear in group settings or in loud environments like restaurants or social gatherings. The contending sounds and background noise are muffling your already affected hearing, making it highly difficult to concentrate on any one source of sound.

4. Listening Fatigue

Finally, you may observe that you’re more fatigued than normal after work or after participation in group settings. For individuals with hearing loss, the chronic struggle to hear, combined with the effort to comprehend incomplete sounds, can bring about severe exhaustion, which is a non-obvious sign of hearing loss.


Hearing loss is progressive and becomes more difficult to treat the longer you delay. If you have any of these signs and symptoms, even if they’re only mild, we strongly recommend arranging a hearing test. By taking action sooner, you can preserve your hearing and stay connected to your loved ones.