Hearing loss is well known to be a process that develops gradually. It can be quite subtle for this exact reason. Your hearing doesn’t get worse in giant leaps but rather in tiny steps. And that can make the gradual decline in your hearing hard to track, particularly if you aren’t watching for it. That’s why knowing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big help for your ear-defense.
An entire assortment of related issues, such as anxiety, depression, and even dementia, can result from untreated hearing loss, so although it’s hard to notice, it’s important to get hearing loss treated as early as you can. Prompt treatment can also help you safeguard your current hearing levels. Noticing the early warning signs is the best way to ensure treatment.
Initial signs of hearing loss can be difficult to identify
Early hearing loss has elusive symptoms. It’s not like you get up one morning and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. Instead, the early signs of hearing loss camouflage themselves in your everyday activities.
The human body and brain, you see, are incredibly adaptable. When your hearing starts to fade, your brain can start to compensate, helping you follow discussions or determine who said what. Likewise, if your left ear begins to fade, perhaps your right ear starts to pick up the slack and you unconsciously start tilting your head just a bit.
But your ears and brain can only compensate so much.
First signs of age-related hearing loss
If you’re concerned that your hearing (or the hearing of a family member) might be failing due to age, there are some common signs you can watch out for:
- Straining to hear in noisy settings: One thing your brain is amazingly good at is distinguishing individual voices in a crowded room. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. It can quickly become overwhelming to try to hear what’s going on in a busy room. If hearing these conversations is more difficult than it used to be (or you find yourself opting out of more conversations than you previously did), it’s worth having your ears assessed.
- You’re asking people to repeat what they said frequently: This one shouldn’t come as much of a shock. But, often, you won’t realize you’re doing it. When you have a hard time hearing something, you might request some repetition. Some red flags should go up when this begins to happen.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are hard to distinguish.: There’s something about the wavelength that these sounds vibrate on that can make them particularly hard to hear when your ears aren’t at their optimum level. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become confused.
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This is probably the single most recognized indication of hearing loss. It’s classic and often cited. But it’s also extremely noticeable and trackable. If you’re constantly 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 have no connection to your hearing. These signs can be strong indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re subtle.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, a sign of hearing loss. You probably think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but straining to hear puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Frequent headaches: When your hearing begins to decline, your ears are still straining to hear sounds. They’re doing hard work. And that extended strain also strains your brain and can lead to chronic headaches.
- Trouble concentrating: If your brain is having to devote more resources to hearing, you could have less concentration power available to accomplish your daily routines. As a result, you may observe some difficulty focusing.
When you detect any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with us to figure out whether or not you are experiencing the early development of hearing impairment. Then, we can formulate treatment plans that can safeguard your hearing.
Hearing loss is a slow-moving process. With the correct knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.