3 unexpected symptoms of hearing loss

Published 01 August 2018  | Updated 16 May 2024  | 3 mins read

One of the most commonly held misconceptions about hearing loss is that it’s easy to tell that you’ve got it – everyone would notice the world getting quieter, right?

There are two major problems with this widespread belief: firstly, hearing loss doesn’t simply make everything quieter, and secondly, you’re far more likely to notice other symptoms of hearing loss before the hearing loss itself.

Hearing loss symptoms are complex because our hearing usually changes very gradually over time, so we become accustomed to missing softer sounds, such as ticking clocks or distant birdsong, before we even realise there might be a problem.

It’s also more common for hearing to deteriorate in higher frequencies first. Instead of causing a loss of volume, this makes sound less distinct; speech can sound mumbled and conversation can prove difficult to follow, particularly in environments with a lot of background noise, such as a busy restaurant.

About half the population will have a form of high frequency hearing loss by their 50s, so these are some of the more unexpected symptoms to look out for:

Social isolation

The effects of a hearing loss can extend far beyond your ears – it can have a serious impact on your mental wellbeing. Thinking people are mumbling and having to constantly ask them to repeat themselves can be extremely frustrating, to the point that you may choose to avoid phone calls or social events altogether.

In turn, this can cause social isolation, avoiding situations involving communication and interaction with other people due to the difficulties in maintaining conversation. In extreme cases, it can even lead to depression.


It’s a little-known fact that we hear with our brains, not with our ears. If you have a hearing loss, it’s your brain that takes the strain, and it can leave you feeling tired with your energy levels low.

This is because if your brain doesn’t receive all the sounds it should do, it has to work harder to fill in the blanks to interpret what’s being said. The extra listening effort needed is not sustainable long-term, and could have even more widespread effects on your brain.

Mental decline

Untreated hearing loss causes auditory deprivation, meaning that the lack of interpretation of speech over a long period of time results in the brain losing the ability to interpret words. The lack of stimulation of the auditory cortex can accelerate mental decline, and can be a significant contributing factor in the onset of dementia.

Early detection is key

A simple regular hearing check can go a long way in supporting your hearing health, helping to monitor your hearing and identify any changes over time. The Hearing Care Partnership offers a free hearing test that provides a comprehensive picture of your hearing health, and if required, our expert audiologists can suggest hearing solutions to suit you, including the world’s latest hearing aid technology.
You can book an appointment online, call us on 0800 52 00 546 or contact your local practice.