It’s frequently said that hearing loss is a slow-moving process. It can be rather insidious for this exact reason. Your hearing doesn’t worsen in giant leaps but rather in little steps. So if you’re not paying close attention, it can be challenging to keep track of the decline in your hearing. That’s why recognizing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big boost for your ear-defense.
Even though it’s difficult to detect, dealing with hearing loss early can help you avoid a wide variety of associated conditions, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Timely treatment can also help you maintain your current hearing levels. Observing the early warning signs is the best way to guarantee treatment.
Early signs of hearing loss can be hard to identify
Early hearing loss has subtle symptoms. It’s not like you wake up one morning and, all of a sudden, you can’t hear anything quieter than 65 decibels. Instead, the initial signs of hearing loss camouflage themselves in your day-to-day activities.
The human body and brain, you see, are amazingly adaptable. When your hearing starts to go, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow discussions or determine who said what. Similarly, if your left ear starts 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 indications of age-related hearing loss
If you’re worried that your hearing (or the hearing of a family member) might be failing due to age, there are some familiar signs you can watch out for:
- Increased volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This is probably the single most well-known sign of hearing loss. It’s classic and often quoted. But it’s also very noticeable and trackable. You can be sure that your hearing is starting to go if you’re always turning the volume up.
- You frequently find yourself asking people to repeat what they said: This one shouldn’t come as much of a 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 what they said. When this starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags around your ears.
- A tough time hearing in crowded spaces: Picking individual voices in a crowd is one thing that the brain is extremely good at. But as your hearing gets worse, your brain has less information to work with. Hearing in a busy space can quickly become overwhelming. 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 getting your ears examined.
- 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 difficult to hear when your ears aren’t at their peak. The same goes for other consonants as well, but you should particularly keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
Look out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, as well
There are some signs of hearing loss that don’t appear to have 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 straining to hear even as your hearing is going. They’re doing hard work. And straining like this over sustained periods can trigger chronic headaches.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, an indicator of hearing loss. You probably think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but the strain puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Trouble concentrating: If your brain is having to devote more resources to hearing, you could have less concentration energy available to get through your everyday routines. As a result, you may notice some difficulty focusing.
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’re experiencing the early development of hearing impairment. Then, we can come up with treatment plans that can safeguard your hearing.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. But you can stay ahead of it with the right knowledge.