Signs of hearing loss 

While hearing loss is sometimes sudden, it is often gradual and you may not notice it at first. Being aware of the early signs can help you identify the problem quickly.

It's important to spot hearing loss as soon as possible because treatment is often more beneficial if started early.

General signs of hearing loss

Early signs of hearing loss can include:

  • difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say
  • asking people to repeat themselves
  • listening to music or watching television with the volume turned up high
  • difficulty hearing the telephone or doorbell
  • regularly feeling tired or stressed, due to having to concentrate closely while listening

In some cases, you may recognise signs of hearing loss in someone else before they notice it themselves.

Read more about losing your hearing.

Signs of hearing loss in children

Although babies are routinely screened within the first few weeks of their birth as part of the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP), there are signs you can look out for which may suggest you should see your GP to arrange another hearing test.

Signs in babies

You should consider seeing your GP if you notice that your baby or toddler:

  • is not startled by loud noises
  • does not turn towards the source of a sound while under four months old
  • does not say single words by the time they are one year old
  • notices you when they see you but not when you call their name
  • hears some sounds but not others

Signs in children

You should consider seeing your GP if you notice your child:

  • is slow to learn to talk, or they are not clear when they speak 
  • often asks you to repeat yourself 
  • often talks very loudly
  • often turns up the volume of the TV so that it is very loud

Read more about your child's development from their birth to five years old.

Seeking medical help

Make an appointment to see your GP if you are having problems with your hearing, or your child is showing signs of hearing difficulties.

If you wake up with a sudden loss of hearing in one ear or lose the hearing in one ear within a couple of days, you should see your GP as soon as possible.

Read more about diagnosing hearing loss.

Page last reviewed: 10/06/2013

Next review due: 10/06/2015