It’s commonly said that hearing loss is a gradual process. That’s part of what can make it rather pernicious. Your hearing doesn’t deteriorate in giant leaps but rather in little steps. So if you’re not watching closely, it can be challenging to measure the decrease in your hearing. That’s why recognizing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big boost for your ear-defense.
An entire assortment of related issues, such as anxiety, depression, and even dementia, can result from untreated hearing loss, so although it’s hard to notice, it’s crucial to get hearing loss treated as early as possible. Prompt treatment can also help you preserve your current hearing levels. Observing the early warning signs is the best way to guarantee treatment.
Early signs of hearing loss can be difficult to identify
The first indications of hearing loss tend to be elusive. You don’t, suddenly, lose a large portion of your hearing. The symptoms, instead, become folded into your everyday lives.
You see, the human body and brain, are extremely adaptable. When your hearing starts to fade, your brain can start to compensate, helping you follow discussions or determine who said what. Similarly, 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 achieve.
First indications of age-related hearing loss
If you’re concerned that your hearing (or the hearing of a family member) may be failing due to age, there are some familiar signs you can watch out for:
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are tough to differentiate.: These consonant sounds tend to vibrate on a frequency that becomes increasingly difficult to discern as your hearing worsens. The same is true of other consonants as well, but you should especially pay attention to those “s” and “th” sounds.
- Increased volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This sign of hearing loss is possibly the most widely recognized. It’s classically known and cited. But it’s also very noticeable and trackable. You can be sure that your hearing is starting to go if you’re always turning the volume up.
- You frequently find yourself needing people to repeat what they said: This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But, typically, you won’t recognize you’re doing it. 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.
- Straining to hear in loud settings: One thing your brain is exceptionally good at is following individual voices in a busy room. But your brain has increasingly less information to work with as your hearing worsens. Hearing in a busy space can quickly become overwhelming. If hearing these conversations is harder than it used to be (or you find yourself sitting out of more conversations than you previously did), it’s worth having your ears checked.
You should also watch for these more subtle signs
There are some signs of hearing loss that don’t appear 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: If your brain is having to devote more energy to hearing, you may have less concentration power available to accomplish your everyday routines. You may find yourself with concentration problems as a consequence.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, an indicator of hearing loss. You might think the quiet makes it easier to sleep, but the strain puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- 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.
It’s a good idea to give us a call for a hearing exam if you’re noticing any of these age related signs of hearing loss. Then we can help you protect your hearing with the right treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. But you can stay ahead of it with the correct knowledge.