Hearing loss is well recognized to be a process that develops slowly. That’s why it can be quite pernicious. Your hearing doesn’t deteriorate in big leaps but rather in little steps. So if you’re not paying close attention, it can be hard to track 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.
Even though it’s hard to spot, treating hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide range of related conditions, including depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Timely treatment can also help you preserve your present hearing levels. The best way to ensure treatment is to notice the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be challenging to notice early signs of hearing loss
The first indications of hearing loss tend to be subtle. It’s not like you get up one day and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. Instead, the early signs of hearing loss camouflage themselves in your everyday activities.
The human body and brain, you see, are incredibly adaptable. Your brain will start to compensate when your hearing starts to go and can use other clues to figure out what people are saying. Similarly, if your left ear starts to fade, maybe your right ear starts to pick up the slack and you unconsciously begin tilting your head just a bit.
But there’s only so much compensation that your brain can accomplish.
First signs of age-related hearing loss
There are some well known signs to watch for if you think that you or a loved one might be going through the beginning of age associated hearing loss:
- Elevated volume on devices: This is perhaps the single most recognized indication of hearing loss. It’s common and often cited. But it’s also easy to see and easy to track (and easy to relate to). If you’re frequently turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you’re not hearing as well as you used to.
- You can’t tell the difference between “s” and “th” sounds anymore: These consonant sounds tend to vibrate on a frequency that becomes progressively hard to differentiate as your hearing worsens. The same goes for other consonants also, but you should especially pay attention to those “s” and “th” sounds.
- Straining to hear in loud settings: Picking individual voices in a crowd is one of the things that the brain is very good at. 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 happening in a crowded space. 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 tested.
- You’re asking people to repeat themselves frequently: This may be surprising. In most cases, though, you will do this without even recognizing that you are doing it at all. Naturally, if you have a hard time hearing something, you will ask people to repeat what they said. Some red flags should go up when this starts to happen.
You should also watch for these more subtle signs
There are some signs of hearing loss that don’t seem to have much to do with your hearing. These signs can be strong indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re subtle.
- Trouble concentrating: It could be hard to obtain necessary levels of concentration to get through your day-to-day tasks if your brain has to invest more resources to hearing. As a result, you might observe some difficulty focusing.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, an indicator of hearing loss. 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: When your hearing begins to decline, your ears are still struggling to hear sounds. They’re doing hard work. And straining like this over sustained periods can cause chronic headaches.
When you detect any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with us to determine whether or not you are experiencing 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 correct knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.