How Do I Know If I Have Hearing Loss?


The symptoms of hearing loss can be gradual or sudden. A sudden hearing loss IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY until proven otherwise by a complete audiologic and medical evaluation. A sudden hearing loss can be associated with an upper respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms.

Adult patients with hearing loss can experience a “blocked” or “fullness” sensation in the involved ear. Sounds and words can sound muffled or in severe cases, completely absent. Patients will often complain that understanding speech is very difficult with background noise (a restaurant, party or a crowded office).

A spouse may comment that the TV has be turned up higher than usual, or that the patient does not always respond to his or her voice. Usually, high-pitched voices (children, women) become more difficult to understand as many patients lose their high frequency hearing first.

Tinnitus (ringing) of the ears is a very common complaint in patients with hearing loss and is often associated with sensorineural hearing loss. Tinnitus can be high pitched or low pitched, it can change in intensity from day to day and be quite unpredictable in its course. Tinnitus is felt to be due to the uncontrolled activity of nerves of the inner ear and the brain, and there is NO medical intervention that cures tinnitus. Over time, most patients become accustomed to the sensation, and in some cases, improve with hearing aids IF they are candidates for amplification.

Key points:

  1. Symptoms of hearing loss can be gradual or sudden.
  2. Sudden hearing loss a MEDICAL EMERGENCY until proven otherwise
  3. Tinnitus is commonly seen with hearing loss.
  4. Difficulty understanding words in background noise is commonly seen in presbycusis.