Hearing loss is well known to be a process that progresses slowly. It can be rather subtle for this exact reason. Your hearing grows worse not in giant leaps but by little steps. And that can make the gradual decline in your hearing hard to keep track of, especially if you aren’t watching for it. That’s why knowing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big boost for your ear-defense.
Even though it’s hard to spot, treating hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide range of related disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Timely treatment can also help you maintain your current hearing levels. The best way to ensure treatment is to recognize the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be hard to observe early signs of hearing loss
The first indications of hearing loss tend to be elusive. It isn’t like you wake up one day and, all of a sudden, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. Instead, the initial signs of hearing loss hide themselves in your day-to-day activities.
You see, the human body and brain, are incredibly adaptable. Your brain will start to compensate when your hearing begins to go and can make use of 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 there’s only so much compensation that your brain can accomplish.
Age related hearing loss – initial signs
If you’re worried that your hearing (or the hearing of a loved one) might be failing because of age, there are some familiar signs you can keep an eye out for:
- Struggling to hear in loud environments: One of the things your brain is exceptionally good at is picking out individual voices in a busy room. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. Hearing in a crowded room can quickly become overwhelming. Having a hearing test is the best option if you find yourself avoiding more conversations because you’re having a difficult time following along.
- 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 goes for other consonants also, but you should particularly keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This is probably the single most recognized sign of hearing loss. It’s common and often quoted. But it’s also easy to notice and easy to monitor (and easy to relate to). If you’re frequently turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to.
- You frequently find yourself needing people to repeat themselves: This may be surprising. In most cases, though, you will do this without realizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a difficult time hearing something, you may request some repetition. When this starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags around your ears.
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 leading indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Trouble focusing: It could be hard to achieve necessary levels of concentration to accomplish your day-to-day tasks if your brain has to invest more energy to hearing. As a result, you may observe some difficulty focusing.
- Frequent headaches: Your ears will still be straining to hear even as your hearing is going. They’re doing hard work. And that sustained strain also strains your brain and can lead to chronic headaches.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, an indicator of hearing loss. It seems as if it would be easier to fall asleep when it’s quiet, but you go into a chronic state of restless alertness when you’re constantly straining to hear.
When you notice any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with us to figure out whether or not you are experiencing the early stages of hearing decline. Then we can help you safeguard your hearing with the best treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slow-moving process. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.