It’s commonly said that hearing loss is a slow-moving process. That’s why it can be quite pernicious. Your hearing grows worse not in big leaps but by tiny steps. So if you’re not watching closely, it can be challenging to keep track of 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 prevent a wide variety of associated disorders, including depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Prompt treatment can also help you maintain your present hearing levels. Observing the early warning signs is the best way to guarantee treatment.
Early signs of hearing loss can be hard to identify
Early hearing loss has subtle symptoms. It isn’t like you wake up one morning and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything quieter than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become incorporated into your everyday lives.
The human body and brain, you see, are incredibly adaptable. When your hearing begins to go, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow conversations or figure out who said what. Similarly, if your left ear starts to fade, perhaps 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
If you’re concerned that your hearing (or the hearing of a loved one) may be waning due to age, there are some familiar signs you can watch out for:
- Straining to hear in loud environments: One thing your brain is amazingly good at is picking out individual voices in a busy space. But as your hearing gets worse, your brain has less information to work with. It can quickly become a chore to try to hear what’s happening in a crowded room. 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 can’t differentiate between “s” and “th” sounds now: There’s something about the wavelength that these sounds vibrate on that can make them particularly hard to hear when your ears aren’t at their optimum level. The same goes for other consonants also, but you should particularly keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
- Increased volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This indication of hearing loss is perhaps the most well known. It’s classically known and cited. But it’s also easy to notice and easy to track (and easy to relate to). You can be sure that your hearing is beginning to go if you’re always turning the volume up.
- You’re asking people to repeat what they said frequently: This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In most situations, though, you will do this without even recognizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a hard time hearing something, you might request some repetition. When this starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags about your ears.
Look out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, too
Some subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they have no connection to your hearing. These signs can be powerful indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re subtle.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another indication of hearing loss is insomnia. You might think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but straining to hear puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Trouble concentrating: If your brain is having to devote more resources to hearing, you could have less concentration power available to get through your everyday routines. As a result, you may observe 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 extended strain also strains your brain and can translate into chronic headaches.
When you notice any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to determine whether or not you’re experiencing the early development of hearing impairment. Then we can help you safeguard your hearing with the right treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. With the correct knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.