When most people think of hearing loss, they may think of someone asking others to repeat themselves, or needing to turn up the volume on the TV. These are among the more common signs of hearing loss. But there are other symptoms of hearing loss that are less visible. Not all of them are easy to spot unless you know what you're looking for. What are these symptoms, and what should you do if you experience them?

Common Signs of Hearing Loss

One of the more common side effects of hearing loss is known as recruitment. Recruitment occurs when the tiny hair cells in the inner ear are damaged. These hair cells normally absorb some of the loudness one may experience; but when these cells suffer damage, an individual doesn't have as much protection. This can lead to the more common signs of hearing loss, including:

  • Not hearing sound clearly
  • Needing sounds to be louder in order to pick up on them
  • Being bothered by loud sounds more than someone with normal hearing
  • Experiencing pain from loud sounds and events (such as live music, bands, even church)

Read More: 10 Possible Causes of Conducive Hearing Loss

Mumbling / Reduced Sound Quality

Another sign of hearing loss is feeling like others are mumbling or not speaking clearly. This is especially common during the early stages of mild hearing loss.  One may be able to hear others, but not always understand what they are saying. Favoring a specific ear while talking on the phone, having a conversation, or watching television may also be a sign of hearing loss.


Tinnitus, or an ongoing ringing or noise in the ears, is a fairly common sign of hearing loss.  It is frequently triggered by exposure to loud noise and in some cases will cease but in others, it can linger long after one is removed from the noisy environment.  If the hearing damage is substantial, the tinnitus can be ongoing and interfere with the ability to hear other sounds.

Pain, Discomfort, and Social Withdrawal

Pain and discomfort from hearing loss can be difficult to judge because the experience can be subjective. It may manifest as an inability to withstand loud noises or music, feeling that it's "too loud" to tolerate. This can lead to other health issues, such as increased stress and anxiety, elevated blood pressure, and withdrawal from social situations.

Retreating from social situations is a major sign to look for in those who may be suffering from hearing loss. This withdrawal from others due to noise can cause a chain reaction, resulting in other negative effects to one's health.

Read More: How To Recommend A Hearing Test To A Significant Other

Cognitive Decline

Untreated hearing loss can have serious effects on a person's health. Left unchecked, it can even speed the process of cognitive decline. If the area of the brain used for hearing isn't used at capacity, then other functions are likely to take over that part of the brain. Individuals receiving a distorted audio signal often see a faster rate of cognitive decline, and this can contribute to the dementia process in some patients. In other words, "if you don't use it, you can lose it."

Not every sign of hearing loss is easy to spot -- but it's important to pay attention to the less obvious symptoms and seek treatment to avoid more serious problems. If you have questions about hearing loss or want to discuss treatment options, contact Virginia ENT today to schedule an appointment.