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
  • Dizziness or 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 (eg, 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 one ear. Common experiences where people begin to notice changes include:

        
  • Difficulty hearing on the telephone
  • Difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise (eg, in a restaurant or crowd or at a party)
  • Difficulty following a conversation when two or more people are talking at once
  • Misunderstanding what other people are saying and responding inappropriately
  • Misundertanding words that have 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
  • Delayed speech