Hearing loss is well known to be a process that develops slowly. It can be rather insidious for this exact reason. Your hearing grows worse not in big leaps but by tiny steps. So if you’re not watching closely, it can be difficult to keep track of the decrease in your hearing. That’s why recognizing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big help for your ear-defense.
Even though it’s hard to identify, treating hearing loss early can help you avoid a wide variety of associated disorders, 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 detect the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be challenging to notice early signs of hearing loss
The first signs of hearing loss are usually elusive. It’s not like you wake up one morning and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become incorporated into your everyday lives.
The human body and brain, you see, are amazingly adaptable. When your hearing starts to go, your brain can start to compensate, helping you follow conversations or figure out who said what. Similarly, if your left ear begins to fade, perhaps 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 worried that your hearing (or the hearing of a loved one) may be waning due to age, there are some common signs you can keep an eye out for:
- A tough time hearing in crowded spaces: One thing your brain is remarkably good at is following individual voices in a crowded space. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. Hearing in a busy room can quickly become overwhelming. Having a hearing examination is the best choice if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a difficult time following along.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are hard to distinguish.: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a wavelength that becomes increasingly hard to discern as your hearing worsens. The same goes for other consonants also, but you should especially keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
- You’re asking people to repeat what they said 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 starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags about your hearing.
- Elevated volume on devices: This is perhaps the single most well-known sign of hearing loss. It’s classically recognized and mentioned. But it’s also extremely noticeable and trackable. You can be certain that your hearing is starting to go if you’re always turning the volume up.
You should also watch for these more subtle signs
A few subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they have no connection to your hearing. These are subtle signs, without a doubt, but they can be a major indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Persistent headaches: When your hearing begins to decrease, your ears are still struggling to hear sounds. They’re working hard. And straining like this over prolonged periods can trigger chronic headaches.
- Difficulty focusing: If your brain is having to devote more resources to hearing, you may have less concentration energy available to accomplish your daily routines. You might find yourself with concentration problems as a consequence.
- 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.
It’s a smart plan to get in touch with us for a hearing assessment if you’re experiencing any of these age related signs of hearing loss. Then we can help you protect your hearing with the best treatment plan.
Hearing loss progresses gradually. But you can stay ahead of it with the right knowledge.