It’s often said that hearing loss is a slow-moving process. It can be quite subtle for this exact reason. Your hearing gets worse not in giant leaps but by little steps. So if you’re not watching closely, it can be difficult to measure the decrease in your hearing. That’s why identifying the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big boost for your ear-defense.
Even though it’s difficult to detect, treating hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide range of associated conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also prevent additional deterioration with prompt treatment. The best way to ensure treatment is to recognize the early warning signs as they are present.
Early signs of hearing loss can be hard to identify
Early hearing loss has subtle symptoms. It’s not like you get up one morning and, all of a sudden, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become folded into your everyday lives.
The human body and brain, you see, are amazingly adaptable. When your hearing begins to fade, your brain can start to compensate, helping you follow conversations or figure out who said what. Maybe you unconsciously begin to tilt your head to the right when your hearing begins to go on the left side.
But your ears and brain can only compensate so much.
First indications of age-related hearing loss
If you’re concerned that your hearing (or the hearing of a family member) might be failing as a result of age, there are some common signs you can watch out for:
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are hard to distinguish.: There’s something about the frequency that these sounds vibrate on that can make them particularly hard to hear when your ears aren’t at their peak. The same is true of other consonants as well, but you should particularly keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This sign of hearing loss is perhaps the most widely known. It’s classically recognized and mentioned. But it’s also easy to notice and easy to track (and easy to relate to). You can be sure that your hearing is starting to go if you’re always turning the volume up.
- You’re asking people to repeat themselves often: This one shouldn’t come as a huge shock. In most instances, though, you will do this without even realizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a difficult time hearing something, you might request some repetition. When this starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags about your ears.
- Struggling to hear in noisy environments: Picking out individual voices in a crowded space is one of the things that the brain is quite good at. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. It can quickly become a chore to try to hear what’s going on in a crowded space. Getting a hearing examination is the best choice if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a hard time following along.
You should also watch for these more subtle signs
Some subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they have no connection to your hearing. These are subtle signs, undoubtedly, but they can be a major indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Persistent headaches: When your hearing begins to decrease, your ears are still struggling to hear sounds. They’re doing hard work. And straining like this over prolonged periods can cause chronic headaches.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, a sign of hearing loss. You may think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but the strain puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Difficulty concentrating: It may be hard to achieve necessary levels of concentration to accomplish your daily activities if your brain has to devote more energy to hearing. You might find yourself with concentration problems as a result.
When you notice any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to figure out whether or not you’re dealing with the early stages of hearing decline. Then, we can formulate treatment plans that can protect your hearing.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. With the correct knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.