It’s commonly said that hearing loss is a gradual process. That’s part of what can make it rather pernicious. Your hearing doesn’t deteriorate in giant leaps but rather in little steps. So if you’re not paying close attention, it can be difficult to keep track of the decline in your hearing. 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 spot, dealing with hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide range of associated conditions, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also protect against additional degeneration with timely treatment. The best way to ensure treatment is to notice the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be hard to observe early signs of hearing loss
The first indications of hearing loss are usually subtle. It’s not like you wake up one day and, all of a sudden, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become folded into your everyday lives.
You see, the human body and brain, are incredibly adaptable. When your hearing begins to go, your brain can start to compensate, helping you follow discussions or figure out who said what. Similarly, 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.
Age related hearing loss – initial signs
There are some common signs to look out for if you think that you or a family member may be going through the onset of age related hearing loss:
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This is probably the single most recognized sign of hearing loss. It’s classically recognized and cited. But it’s also very obvious and trackable. If you’re continuously turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to.
- Struggling to hear in loud settings: Picking individual voices in a crowd is one thing that the brain is very good at. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. Hearing in a busy space 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 checked.
- You can’t differentiate between “s” and “th” sounds anymore: There’s something about the wavelength that these sounds vibrate on that can make them especially 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.
- You’re asking people to repeat what they said frequently: This one shouldn’t come as a huge shock. In most cases, 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 themselves. When this begins to happen more often, it should raise some red flags about your hearing.
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.
- Trouble focusing: It may be hard to obtain necessary levels of concentration to accomplish your daily activities if your brain has to devote more resources to hearing. You might find yourself with concentration issues as a result.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another indication 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 constantly straining to hear.
- Frequent 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 translate into chronic headaches.
When you observe any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to determine whether or not you are dealing with the early development of hearing impairment. Then, we can formulate treatment plans that can safeguard your hearing.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. But you can stay ahead of it with the correct knowledge.