Hearing loss is well recognized to be a process that progresses gradually. It can be quite insidious for this exact reason. Your hearing grows worse not in giant leaps but by tiny steps. So if you’re not watching closely, it can be challenging to measure the decline in your hearing. That’s why knowing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big help for your ear-defense.
A whole assortment of related problems, 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 ensure treatment.
Initial signs of hearing loss can be difficult to spot
Early hearing loss has elusive symptoms. You don’t, suddenly, lose a large portion of your hearing. The symptoms, instead, become incorporated into your day-to-day lives.
You see, the human body and brain, are extremely adaptable. When your hearing begins to go, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow discussions or determine who said what. Similarly, if your left ear starts to fade, maybe your right ear starts to pick up the slack 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) might be waning as a result of age, there are some common signs you can watch out for:
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are difficult to distinguish.: There’s something about the frequency that these sounds vibrate on that can make them especially hard to hear when your ears aren’t at their peak. You should pay especial attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become confused.
- A hard time hearing in busy spaces: Picking individual voices in a crowd is one thing that the brain is extremely good at. But your brain has increasingly less information to work with as your hearing worsens. It can quickly become overwhelming to try to hear what’s going on in a busy space. If hearing these conversations is more difficult than it used to be (or you find yourself opting out of more conversations than you used to), it’s worth having your ears assessed.
- Elevated volume on devices: This is perhaps the single most well-known sign of hearing loss. It’s common and often quoted. But it’s also easy to see and easy to monitor (and easy to relate to). You can be sure that your hearing is starting to go if you’re constantly turning the volume up.
- You’re asking people to repeat themselves often: This one shouldn’t come as much of a shock. In most instances, though, you will do this without realizing that you are doing it at all. Obviously, if you have difficulty hearing something, you will ask people to repeat what they said. Some red flags should go up when this starts to happen.
You should also be on the lookout 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 discreet.
- Persistent headaches: Your ears will still be straining to hear even as your hearing is declining. They’re doing hard work. And straining like this over sustained periods can trigger chronic headaches.
- Difficulty focusing: If your brain is having to devote more resources to hearing, you could have less concentration power available to get through your daily routines. As a result, you might experience some difficulty focusing.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, an indicator of hearing loss. It seems like 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 important to schedule an appointment with us to identify whether or not you are experiencing the early development of hearing impairment. Then we can help you safeguard your hearing with the best treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slow-moving process. But you can stay ahead of it with the right knowledge.