• Symptoms of Hearing Loss

    Hearing loss usually comes on gradually but may develop suddenly. The symptoms may include:
      Decreased ability to hear any of the following:
      • Higher pitched sounds
      • Lower pitched sounds
      • All sounds
      • Speech when there is background noise
    • Dizziness
    • Ringing, hissing, or roaring sounds in the ears ( tinnitus )
    • Some sounds seem too loud
    • Problems with balance
    • Ear pain
    • Feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear (eg, with earwax or fluid)
    Some people may not realize that they have hearing loss, especially if it develops over a number of years or if it happens in one ear. Common experiences where people begin to notice changes include:
    • Difficulty hearing on the telephone
    • Difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise (eg, in a restaurant or crowd or at a party)
    • Difficulty following a conversation when two or more people are talking at once
    • Misunderstanding what other people are saying and responding inappropriately
    • Misundertanding words that have sound similar
    • Asking people to repeat what they said or speak more slowly, loudly, and clearly
    • Difficulty understanding the speech of women and children, which is higher pitched
    • Getting complaints from others that you have the TV or radio volume too high
    • Withdrawing from conversations because you have trouble hearing
    Symptoms of deafness or hearing loss in infants that may be noted:
      0-3 months:
      • Does not react to loud sounds or voices
      • Does not turn head toward you when you talk
      3-6 months:
      • Does not turn toward a new sound
      • Does not respond to changes in tone of voice
      • Does not imitate own voice or make babbling or cooing sounds
      • Does not respond to rattles or musical toys
      6-10 months:
      • Does not respond to own name, another person’s voice, or telephone ringing
      • Does not make babbling sounds or know words for common things
      • Does not look at things when someone talks about them
      10-15 months:
      • Does not experiment with own voice
      • Does not imitate easy words or sounds
      • Does not focus on common objects or familiar people when asked
      • Delayed speech
      15-18 months:
      • Does not know or say even a small number of words
      • Does not follow simple directions
      • Delayed speech


    Hearing loss. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=DS00172 . Accessed August 10, 2005.

    Hearing loss. NIH SeniorHealth, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/hearingloss/hearinglossdefined/01.html . Accessed August 10, 2005.

    Hearing, speech, and language problems in children. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/silence.asp . Accessed August 12, 2005.

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