Hearing loss is well recognized to be a process that develops slowly. That’s why it can be quite pernicious. Your hearing doesn’t worsen in giant leaps but rather in little steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your ears challenging to track, particularly if you aren’t watching for it. Because of this, it’s important to be familiar with the early signs of hearing loss.
Even though it’s difficult to spot, treating hearing loss early can help you avoid a wide range of related conditions, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Prompt treatment can also help you maintain your current hearing levels. The best way to ensure treatment is to notice the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be hard to observe early signs of hearing loss
The first indications of hearing loss are usually elusive. It’s not like you get up one day and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become incorporated into your everyday lives.
You see, the human body and brain, are incredibly adaptable. When your hearing starts to fade, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow discussions or determine who said what. Similarly, if your left ear begins to fade, perhaps your right ear starts to pick up the slack and you unconsciously begin tilting your head just a bit.
But your ears and brain can only compensate so much.
First indications of age-related hearing loss
There are some common signs to watch for if you think that you or a loved one might be experiencing the beginning of age associated hearing loss:
- You’re asking people to repeat what they said frequently: This might be surprising. 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.
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This is probably the single most well-known sign of hearing loss. It’s classically recognized and cited. But it’s also easy to see and easy to monitor (and easy to relate to). You can be certain that your hearing is starting to go if you’re always turning the volume up.
- Straining to hear in loud environments: One of the things your brain is amazingly good at is following individual voices in a crowded space. But your brain has increasingly less information to work with as your hearing gets worse. It can quickly become a chore to try to hear what’s happening in a busy room. If hearing these conversations is harder than it used to be (or you find yourself opting out of more conversations than you previously did), it’s worth having your ears examined.
- You can’t differentiate between “s” and “th” sounds now: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a frequency that becomes progressively hard to differentiate as your hearing worsens. The same goes for other consonants also, but you should particularly keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
Look out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, as well
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.
- Chronic headaches: Your ears will still be struggling to hear even as your hearing is going. They’re working hard. And straining like this over sustained periods can trigger chronic headaches.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, a sign of hearing loss. You probably think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but the strain puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Trouble focusing: If your brain is having to devote more resources to hearing, you could have less concentration energy available to accomplish your daily routines. As a result, you may observe some difficulty focusing.
When you observe any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with us to determine whether or not you are experiencing the early development of hearing decline. Then we can help you safeguard your hearing with the best treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.