It is not uncommon for people to develop hearing loss and be entirely unaware of this fact. Hearing loss often remains hidden for several years; in fact, it can take up to 10 years for a person to seek help for hearing loss, and it has been estimated that up to 85% of cases of hearing loss are untreated. 

However, hearing loss is not a complete ghost – there are four tell-tale signs that a person may be experiencing the condition, as we have outlined in more detail below:

Difficulty with conversations and speech

  • Those with untreated hearing loss may be unable to hear speech, but the individual words can be indistinct, sounding more as if they have been mumbled rather than spoken clearly. 
  • Conversing with others can become more difficult; especially if the conversation is taking place where there is significant background noise.
  • Asking people to repeat what they have said is also a common sign of hearing loss, either due to the need for additional clarity or due to the difficulty following the thread of a conversation – the latter of which is particularly common during group discussions

Social withdrawal 

  • When attending social events or conversing with friends and family, tiredness, fatigue and confusion are common for those experiencing untreated hearing loss. 
  • In seeking to avoid the above complications, people can become withdrawn and less willing to socialize in person, or to have conversations over the telephone
  • Social withdrawal can apply both to everyday interactions and to one-off events, such as parties or days out with family 

Needing to increase the TV volume 

  • Most people will change the volume settings on their TV frequently, usually to match what they are watching – adverts are usually louder than actual shows, so adjusting the volume is commonplace
  • However, if volume is continually being increased – rather than moving up and down to accommodate programming changes – then this can be a sign of hearing loss 
  • In some instances, the increased volume may be commented on by friends or loved ones, usually observing that it seems unusually high or asking for the volume to be reduced


  • Tinnitus and hearing loss are strongly co-morbid; it is thought that around 90% of people with tinnitus also have underlying hearing loss
  • The main symptom of tinnitus is hearing sounds that are not actually present in the physical world; instead, the sounds are being created by the individual’s brain in response to the sound deprivation hearing loss can cause 
  • Tinnitus can also make it difficult to sleep at night, and can lead to the development of anxiety, stress and depression 

What should you do if you notice one or more of these signs? 

If you believe you are experiencing any of the signs of hearing loss, then your course of action is straightforward; arrange an appointment with an audiologist. Your audiologist will be able to assess your concerns and conduct a hearing test that will provide greater insight into your overall hearing health.