Hearing loss is well recognized to be a process that develops slowly. That’s why it can be quite pernicious. Your hearing doesn’t get worse in giant leaps but rather in little steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your ears challenging to keep track of, particularly if you aren’t looking for it. That’s why knowing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big help for your ear-defense.
A whole assortment of related problems, like anxiety, depression, and even dementia, can result from untreated hearing loss, so although it’s difficult to detect, it’s important to get hearing loss treated as early as possible. Timely treatment can also help you safeguard your present 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 subtle symptoms. You don’t, all of a sudden, lose a large portion of your hearing. The symptoms, instead, become folded into your everyday lives.
The human body and brain, you see, are amazingly adaptable. Your brain will start to compensate when your hearing begins to go and can make use of other clues to determine what people are saying. Similarly, if your left ear begins to fade, maybe 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
There are some common signs to look out for if you think that you or a family member may be experiencing the beginning of age associated hearing loss:
- You’re asking people to repeat what they said frequently: This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In most instances, though, you will do this without recognizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a difficult time hearing something, you may request some repetition. When this starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags around your ears.
- A difficult time hearing in crowded spaces: Picking individual voices in a crowd 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 overwhelming. Having a hearing exam is the best choice if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a difficult time following along.
- Elevated volume on devices: This sign of hearing loss is perhaps the most widely known. It’s classic and frequently quoted. But it’s also easy to see and easy to monitor (and easy to relate to). If you’re continuously turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you’re not hearing as well as you used to.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are tough to differentiate.: There’s something about the wavelength that these sounds vibrate on that can make them particularly difficult to hear when your ears aren’t at their peak. The same goes for other consonants also, but you should particularly keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
Keep your eye out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, too
There are a few signs of hearing loss that don’t seem to have much to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, no doubt, but they can be a major indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, an indicator of hearing loss. It seems like it would be easier to sleep when it’s quiet, but you go into a chronic state of restless alertness when you’re constantly straining to hear.
- Frequent headaches: Your ears will still be straining to hear even as your hearing is declining. They’re working hard. And that extended strain also strains your brain and can translate into chronic headaches.
- Difficulty concentrating: If your brain is having to devote more energy to hearing, you may have less concentration power available to accomplish your everyday routines. As a result, you may observe some trouble focusing.
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 protect your hearing with the right treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. With the correct knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.