It’s often said that hearing loss is a slow-moving process. That’s why it can be rather insidious. Your hearing doesn’t deteriorate in giant leaps but rather in little steps. So if you’re not watching closely, it can be difficult to measure the decline in your hearing. That’s why recognizing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big boost for your ear-defense.
Even though it’s difficult to identify, treating hearing loss early can help you avoid a wide variety of associated conditions, including depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also protect against additional deterioration with prompt treatment. The best way to ensure treatment is to recognize the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be challenging to observe early signs of hearing loss
Early hearing loss has elusive symptoms. It’s not like you get up one morning and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything quieter than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become folded into your day-to-day lives.
The human body and brain, you see, are amazingly adaptable. When your hearing begins to fade, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow conversations or determine who said what. Likewise, if your left ear starts to fade, perhaps your right ear starts to compensate and you unconsciously start 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 family member might be experiencing the onset of age associated hearing loss:
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or mobile phone: This is perhaps the single most well-known indication of hearing loss. It’s common and frequently cited. But it’s also easy to see and easy to track (and easy to relate to). If you’re continuously turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you’re not hearing as well as you used to.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are difficult to differentiate.: These consonant sounds tend to vibrate on a wavelength that becomes progressively hard to differentiate as your hearing fades. You should pay especial attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
- A hard time hearing in busy spaces: Distinguishing individual voices in a crowded space is one thing that the brain is very good at. But your brain has progressively less information to work with as your hearing gets worse. It can quickly become a chore to try to hear what’s happening in a busy room. Having a hearing examination is the best option if you find yourself avoiding more conversations because you’re having a hard time following along.
- You frequently find yourself needing people to repeat what they said: This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In most cases, though, you will do this without realizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a challenging time hearing something, you may request some repetition. Some red flags should go up when this starts to happen.
Keep your eye out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, too
There are a few signs of hearing loss that don’t appear to have very much to do with your hearing. These signs can be strong indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re subtle.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another indication of hearing loss is insomnia. You may think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but the strain puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Frequent headaches: When your hearing starts to decline, your ears are still struggling to hear sounds. They’re working hard. And straining like this over prolonged periods can trigger chronic headaches.
- Difficulty concentrating: If your brain is having to devote more resources to hearing, you could have less concentration power available to get through your daily routines. You may find yourself with concentration issues as a consequence.
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’re experiencing the early stages of hearing decline. Then, we can formulate treatment plans that can protect your hearing.
Hearing loss is a slow-moving process. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.