Hearing loss is well known to be a process that develops gradually. It can be rather subtle for this very reason. Your hearing doesn’t deteriorate in big leaps but rather in tiny steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your ears difficult to track, particularly if you aren’t looking for it. That’s why identifying the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big help for your ear-defense.
Even though it’s difficult to identify, dealing with hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide variety of associated disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Prompt treatment can also help you preserve your current hearing levels. The best way to ensure treatment is to recognize the early warning signs as they are present.
Initial signs of hearing loss can be hard to identify
Early hearing loss has subtle symptoms. 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 everyday lives.
The human body and brain, you see, are incredibly adaptable. Your brain will begin to compensate when your hearing begins to go and can make use of other clues to figure out what people are saying. Perhaps you unconsciously start to tilt your head to the right when your hearing starts to go on the left side.
But your ears and brain can only compensate so much.
Age related hearing loss – first signs
There are some common signs to watch for if you think that you or a loved one might be going through the beginning of age related hearing loss:
- A tough time hearing in crowded spaces: Distinguishing individual voices in a crowd is one thing that the brain is extremely good at. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. Hearing in a crowded room can quickly become a chore. If hearing these conversations is harder than it used to be (or you find yourself opting out of more conversations than you previously did), it’s worth getting your ears checked.
- You regularly find yourself asking people to repeat what they said: This might be surprising. In most instances, though, you will do this without even recognizing that you are doing it at all. Obviously, if you have a hard time hearing something, you will ask people to repeat themselves. When this starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags around your hearing.
- You can’t tell the difference between “s” and “th” sounds anymore: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a frequency that becomes increasingly hard to discern as your hearing worsens. You should pay especial attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This sign of hearing loss is possibly the most well known. It’s classically recognized and mentioned. But it’s also very obvious and trackable. If you’re frequently turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to.
You should also be on the lookout for these more subtle signs
A few subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they don’t have anything at all to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, undoubtedly, but they can be a leading indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Persistent headaches: Your ears will still be struggling to hear even as your hearing is declining. They’re working hard. And straining like this over extended periods can cause chronic headaches.
- Difficulty concentrating: If your brain is having to devote more energy to hearing, you could have less concentration energy available to get through your daily routines. As a result, you might observe some trouble focusing.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another sign of hearing loss is insomnia. It seems as if it would be easier to fall asleep when it’s quiet, but you go into a chronic state of restless alertness when you’re always straining to hear.
When you detect any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to identify whether or not you are dealing with the early stages of hearing impairment. Then we can help you protect your hearing with the right treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slow-moving process. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.