It’s commonly said that hearing loss is a gradual process. It can be rather subtle for this very reason. Your hearing doesn’t deteriorate in big leaps but rather in little steps. So if you’re not watching closely, it can be challenging to measure the decline in your hearing. 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, like anxiety, depression, and even dementia, can result from untreated hearing loss, so even though it’s difficult to notice, it’s important to get hearing loss treated as early as possible. You will also avoid further degeneration with prompt treatment. The best way to ensure treatment is to detect the early warning signs as they are present.
Initial signs of hearing loss can be difficult to spot
Early hearing loss has subtle symptoms. It isn’t 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 day-to-day lives.
You see, the human body and brain, are amazingly adaptable. Your brain will start to compensate when your hearing starts to go and can make use of other clues to determine what people are saying. Likewise, if your left ear starts to fade, maybe your right ear starts to compensate 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
If you’re concerned that your hearing (or the hearing of a family member) may be waning due to age, there are some common signs you can watch out for:
- Straining to hear in noisy environments: One thing your brain is amazingly good at is picking out individual voices in a busy room. But your brain has increasingly less information to work with as your hearing gets worse. It can quickly become overwhelming to try to hear what’s going on in a crowded space. If hearing these conversations is harder than it used to be (or you find yourself opting out of more conversations than you previously did), it’s worth getting your ears tested.
- Elevated volume on devices: This is probably the single most recognized indication of hearing loss. It’s common and frequently quoted. But it’s also very obvious and trackable. If you’re frequently turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to.
- You can’t tell the difference between “s” and “th” sounds now: 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 optimum level. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become confused.
- You frequently find yourself asking people to repeat what they said: This may be surprising. But, typically, you won’t recognize you’re doing it. Obviously, if you have a hard time hearing something, you will ask people to repeat themselves. When this begins to happen more often, it should raise some red flags around your hearing.
You should also be on the lookout for these more subtle signs
A few subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they don’t have anything at all to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, no doubt, but they can be a major indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Trouble concentrating: It could be difficult to obtain necessary levels of concentration to get through your daily activities if your brain has to devote more energy to hearing. You may find yourself with concentration issues as a result.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another indication of hearing loss is insomnia. 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 struggling to hear even as your hearing is going. They’re working hard. And that sustained strain also strains your brain and can result in chronic headaches.
When you observe any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with us to identify whether or not you’re dealing with the early stages of hearing decline. Then, we can develop treatment plans that can safeguard your hearing.
Hearing loss develops gradually. But you can stay ahead of it with the correct knowledge.