Hearing loss, it’s not just for retired people anymore. In fact, 1 in 5 teens in North America has permanent hearing loss – mostly from cranking the volume on their iPods too much. So, how can you tell if you’re in trouble?

First, you find it hard to understand normal conversations and have to keep asking people to repeat themselves.

You also misunderstand what others are saying, especially women and children. Their voices are at higher frequencies, which start to fade first.  So, their voices are harder to hear. And if your ears aren’t catching every word, your brain automatically fills in the gaps, often with annoying or embarrassing results.

Another clue that you’ve got hearing problems: Your family complains that the TV’s too loud.  And you’re having problems with the telephone. Hearing loss usually comes on gradually and you naturally begin to read lips and look for nonverbal clues to understand what’s going on. But that won’t help when you’re on the phone.

Another sign of hearing loss: Your ears are ringing. Tinnitus is a common first sign that there’s something wrong with your ears.

If that describes you, talk to your doctor. And if you’d like to test your hearing online go to HearTheWorld.com.