Skip to main content
Average ER Wait Time
Checking ER Wait Time
The feed could not be reached
Medical City Dallas Hospital
Medical City ER

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
  • Lightheadedness or a sensation of spinning known as vertigo
  • 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 (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 1 ear. Common experiences where people begin to notice changes include:

  • Difficulty hearing on the telephone
  • Difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise, like in a restaurant, crowd, or at a party
  • Difficulty following a conversation when 2 or more people are talking at once
  • Misunderstanding what other people are saying and responding inappropriately
  • Misunderstanding words that 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
    • Other evidence of delayed speech

Revision Information

  • Hearing loss. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed August 17, 2016.

  • Hearing loss. NIH SeniorHealth website. Available at: Accessed August 17, 2016.

  • Hearing loss and older adults. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: Updated June 3, 2016. Accessed August 17, 2016.