Recognising the signs of hearing loss

Picture this: you’re in a bustling café or socialising in a group. Do you find yourself tired after straining to hear conversations? Or maybe you’re missing phone calls because you don’t hear the phone ring.

If so, you might be encountering the early signs of hearing loss. Hearing challenges are more common than you might realise and understanding them is the first step towards better hearing (and better communication).

Did you know that 3.5 million Australian adults deal with one or more hearing difficulties1? As we age, it’s no surprise that the likelihood of experiencing hearing challenges increases, especially for those over 50.

How hearing loss impacts our daily lives

Hearing is deeply personal. It connects us to people, places, and memories. When it becomes challenging, feelings of isolation can creep in. Conversations might seem distant, and social gatherings more challenging.

But it doesn’t need to seem daunting. In fact, recognising the early signs can help begin your journey to enhancing your hearing experience.

Identifying the signs of hearing challenges

Wondering if you might be facing hearing difficulties? As a simple test, count how many of the below scenarios resonate with you:

  • Conversations often sound muffled or distant
  • You frequently ask people to repeat themselves, even in quiet settings
  • Concentrating on conversations leaves you feeling drained and tired
  • Background noise in places like restaurants makes hearing challenging
  • Pinpointing the direction of sounds is difficult
  • Listening to sounds from afar in quiet places is a struggle
  • You prefer the TV volume louder than most and even then it's not always clear
  • Others mention that you speak quite loudly
  • Conversations require you to lean in closer
  • Your family has a history of hearing difficulties
  • You have a history of working in noisy environments or with load machinery
  • You are plagued with a persistent ringing or other sounds in your ears – refer to the Tinnitus section below
  • You're on medications known to affect hearing

If any one or more of the above applies to you, it might be time to get your hearing checked. Feeling hesitant? You’re not alone. Did you know that on average, people wait seven years from the onset of symptoms before seeking assistance2.

To warm up to the idea of having a proper hearing assessment, it’s worth considering taking an online hearing test in the privacy of your own home first. While they’re not the same as a hearing assessment with a qualified healthcare professional, they may give an indication of hearing loss.

If you are concerned, or if your online test results suggest, you can then book in for a formal hearing assessment. While we know it can feel like a big step to take, don’t wait years to set yourself on the path to improved hearing. Early detection and intervention can make a difference.

Take the first step

Book a hearing assessment with a qualified healthcare professional to start your journey towards improved hearing and communication, and better quality of life.

We're here to help

Bupa customers are entitled to a free comprehensive hearing assessment with a qualified health professional.

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What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus, is the perception of noise when there is actually no environmental noise present. Tinnitus is not a disease but is a symptom - caused by a fault in our auditory (hearing) pathway. The origin of the word 'tinnitus' is from Latin, meaning 'to ring or tinker'.

Many people will experience fleeting tinnitus from time to time but it is estimated that 15% to 20% of people experience persistent or impactful tinnitus at some stage of their life. Most people learn to live with their persistent tinnitus with little or no impact on their lives while others find it significantly affects their quality of life with impacts such as sleep disturbance, social and work withdrawal through to severe depression.

There is no clinically validated cure for tinnitus, but many management techniques exist from lifestyle adjustments through to counselling and tinnitus maskers (which are available as an option in many digital hearing aids). If tinnitus is adversely affecting your quality of life it is recommended, you seek the advice of a qualified health care professional. An audiologist is a good first choice!


1. Australian Government Department of Health. (2019). Hearing health in Australia. Retrieved from Department of Health website.
2. Amplifon website. (2023). Talking about hearing loss. Retrieved from
3. Baguley, D., McFerran, D., & Hall, D. (2013). Tinnitus. The Lancet, 382(9904), 1600-1607. Retrieved from The Lancet journal.
4. Oxford Dictionary
5. Tinnitus Association Victoria: