Hearing loss is widely recognized to be a process that progresses slowly. That’s why it can be quite insidious. Your hearing grows worse not in big leaps but by little steps. And that can make the gradual decline in your hearing hard to keep track of, particularly if you aren’t watching for it. 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 spot, treating hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide range of associated conditions, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Prompt treatment can also help you safeguard your present hearing levels. The best way to ensure treatment is to recognize the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be difficult to observe early signs of hearing loss
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 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. Your brain will start to compensate when your hearing begins to go and can use other clues to determine what people are saying. Maybe you unconsciously start 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.
Age related hearing loss – first signs
There are some well known signs to look out for if you think that you or a family member may be experiencing the onset of age associated hearing loss:
- Increased volume on devices: This sign of hearing loss is perhaps the most well known. It’s classically known and mentioned. But it’s also extremely noticeable 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.
- A difficult time hearing in crowded spaces: One thing your brain is exceptionally good at is picking out individual voices in a busy room. But your brain has progressively less information to work with as your hearing gets worse. Hearing in a busy space can quickly become overwhelming. If following these conversations is harder than it used to be (or you find yourself sitting out of more conversations than you used to), it’s worth having your ears examined.
- You’re asking people to repeat themselves often: This may be surprising. In most situations, though, you will do this without recognizing that you are doing it at all. 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 about your ears.
- You can’t differentiate between “s” and “th” sounds anymore: These consonant sounds tend to vibrate on a frequency that becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate as your hearing worsens. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become confused.
Look out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, as well
A few subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they don’t have anything at all to do with your hearing. These signs can be powerful indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re discreet.
- Trouble concentrating: It may be hard to achieve necessary levels of concentration to accomplish your day-to-day tasks if your brain has to devote more resources to hearing. As a result, you may notice some difficulty focusing.
- Persistent headaches: Your ears will still be struggling to hear even as your hearing is declining. They’re doing hard work. And that prolonged strain also strains your brain and can lead to chronic headaches.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, an indicator 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.
When you notice any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with us to identify whether or not you are dealing with the early development of hearing decline. Then, we can formulate treatment plans that can safeguard your hearing.
Hearing loss is a slow-moving process. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.