Hearing loss is widely recognized to be a process that develops slowly. It can be quite subtle for this very reason. Your hearing grows worse not in huge leaps but by tiny steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your hearing difficult to track, particularly if you aren’t looking for it. That’s why knowing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big help for your ear-defense.
An entire variety of related issues, such as anxiety, depression, and even dementia, can result from neglected hearing loss, so even though it’s hard to detect, it’s important to get hearing loss treated as early as possible. Timely treatment can also help you safeguard your present hearing levels. Observing the early warning signs is the best way to ensure treatment.
It can be hard to detect early signs of hearing loss
Early hearing loss has subtle symptoms. It isn’t like you get up one morning and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become incorporated into your day-to-day lives.
The human body and brain, you see, are incredibly adaptable. Your brain will start to compensate when your hearing begins to go and can use other clues to determine what people are saying. Perhaps you unconsciously start to tilt your head to the right when your hearing begins to go on the left side.
But your ears and brain can only compensate so much.
Age related hearing loss – initial signs
If you’re concerned that your hearing (or the hearing of a loved one) may be waning because of age, there are some familiar signs you can watch out for:
- You’re asking people to repeat themselves often: This might be surprising. In most cases, though, you will do this without even recognizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a hard time hearing something, you may request some repetition. Some red flags should go up when this starts to happen.
- A difficult time hearing in crowded spaces: One thing your brain is exceptionally good at is distinguishing individual voices in a crowded space. But as your hearing gets worse, your brain has less information to work with. Hearing in a busy space can quickly become overwhelming. Getting a hearing test is the best choice if you find yourself avoiding more conversations because you’re having a difficult time following along.
- You can’t differentiate between “s” and “th” sounds now: These consonant sounds tend to vibrate on a frequency that becomes increasingly hard to differentiate as your hearing fades. The same is true of other consonants also, but you should particularly keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This is perhaps the single most recognized indication of hearing loss. It’s classically recognized and cited. But it’s also extremely noticeable and trackable. If you’re constantly turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to.
You should also be on the lookout for these more subtle signs
Some subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they have no connection to 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 straining to hear puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Frequent headaches: Your ears will still be straining to hear even as your hearing is going. They’re working hard. And straining like this over sustained periods can trigger chronic headaches.
- Trouble concentrating: If your brain is having to devote more resources to hearing, you could have less concentration energy available to get through your everyday routines. As a result, you may experience some difficulty focusing.
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 safeguard your hearing with the right treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.