It’s often said that hearing loss is a gradual process. It can be rather subtle for this exact reason. Your hearing grows worse not in giant leaps but by tiny steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your hearing challenging to track, particularly if you aren’t looking for it. That’s why recognizing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big help for your ear-defense.
Even though it’s hard to detect, dealing with hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide range of associated disorders, including depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Timely treatment can also help you maintain your present hearing levels. The best way to ensure treatment is to notice the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be hard to detect early signs of hearing loss
The first indications of hearing loss are usually elusive. It’s not like you get up one morning and, all of a sudden, you can’t hear anything quieter than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become incorporated into your day-to-day lives.
You see, the human body and brain, are amazingly adaptable. When your hearing begins to fade, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow discussions or figure out who said what. Perhaps you unconsciously start to tilt your head to the right when your hearing starts to go on the left side.
But there’s only so much compensation that your brain can accomplish.
First signs of age-related hearing loss
There are some common signs to look out for if you think that you or a loved one may be going through the onset of age associated hearing loss:
- Increased volume on devices: This is perhaps the single most well-known indication of hearing loss. It’s common and frequently cited. But it’s also very noticeable and trackable. You can be certain that your hearing is starting to go if you’re constantly turning the volume up.
- A hard time hearing in busy spaces: Distinguishing individual voices in a crowd is one of the things that the brain is very good at. But your brain has increasingly less information to work with as your hearing worsens. Hearing in a busy room can quickly become a chore. If following these conversations is harder than it used to be (or you find yourself opting out of more conversations than you used to), it’s worth getting your ears tested.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are hard to distinguish.: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a wavelength that becomes increasingly difficult to discern as your hearing fades. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
- You frequently find yourself asking people to repeat themselves: This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In most situations, though, you will do this without even recognizing that you are doing it at all. Obviously, if you have difficulty hearing something, you will ask people to repeat what they said. Some red flags should go up when this begins to happen.
You should also be on the lookout for these more subtle signs
There are a few signs of hearing loss that don’t seem to have very much to do with your hearing. These signs can be powerful indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re subtle.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another sign of hearing loss is insomnia. You may think the quiet makes it easier to sleep, but straining to hear puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Trouble focusing: If your brain is having to devote more energy to hearing, you may have less concentration power available to get through your daily routines. As a result, you may notice some trouble focusing.
- Persistent headaches: When your hearing begins to decrease, your ears are still struggling to hear sounds. They’re doing hard work. And that sustained strain also strains your brain and can result in chronic headaches.
When you observe any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to identify whether or not you’re experiencing the early development of hearing decline. Then we can help you safeguard your hearing with the right treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.