Hearing loss is well recognized to be a process that develops gradually. That’s part of what can make it quite insidious. Your hearing doesn’t get worse in giant leaps but rather in tiny steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your hearing difficult to track, particularly if you aren’t watching 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 identify, treating hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide variety of related disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Timely treatment can also help you preserve your present hearing levels. Detecting the early warning signs is the best way to ensure treatment.
Initial signs of hearing loss can be hard to identify
The first signs of hearing loss are usually subtle. It isn’t 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. When your hearing begins to go, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow discussions or determine who said what. Maybe you unconsciously begin 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 achieve.
Age related hearing loss – initial signs
There are some common signs to look out for if you think that you or a loved one might be experiencing the beginning of age associated hearing loss:
- Straining to hear in loud environments: Picking individual voices in a crowded space is one thing that the brain is extremely good at. But your brain has progressively less information to work with as your hearing worsens. 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 sitting out of more conversations than you previously did), it’s worth having your ears checked.
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or mobile phone: This is probably the single most recognized indication of hearing loss. It’s classic and often quoted. But it’s also extremely obvious and trackable. If you’re continuously turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you’re not hearing as well as you used to.
- You’re asking people to repeat themselves frequently: This might be surprising. In most situations, though, you will do this without realizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a hard time hearing something, you may request some repetition. When this begins to happen more often, it should raise some red flags about your hearing.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are difficult to distinguish.: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a wavelength that becomes progressively tough to differentiate as your hearing fades. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
Keep your eye out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, as well
There are some signs of hearing loss that don’t appear to have very much to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, no doubt, but they can be a leading indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Frequent headaches: Your ears will still be struggling to hear even as your hearing is declining. They’re doing hard work. And straining like this over sustained periods can cause chronic headaches.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, a sign of hearing loss. You might think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, 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 could have less concentration energy available to accomplish your everyday routines. You might find yourself with concentration issues as a consequence.
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 dealing with the early stages of hearing decline. Then, we can formulate treatment plans that can safeguard your hearing.
Hearing loss progresses gradually. But you can stay ahead of it with the right knowledge.