It’s often said that hearing loss is a gradual process. It can be rather subtle for this very reason. Your hearing doesn’t get worse in giant leaps but rather in tiny steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your hearing difficult to keep track of, especially if you aren’t watching for it. 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 hard to spot, dealing with hearing loss early can help you avoid a wide variety of associated conditions, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also avoid additional deterioration with prompt treatment. Noticing the early warning signs is the best way to ensure treatment.
It can be hard to detect early signs of hearing loss
The first signs of hearing loss are usually elusive. It’s not like you wake up one day and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. Instead, the initial signs of hearing loss camouflage themselves in your day-to-day activities.
You see, the human body and brain, are extremely adaptable. Your brain will start to compensate when your hearing begins to go and can make use of other clues to figure out what people are saying. Similarly, if your left ear starts to fade, maybe 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.
Age related hearing loss – first signs
There are some well known signs to watch for if you think that you or a family member might be experiencing the beginning of age related hearing loss:
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or mobile phone: This sign of hearing loss is possibly the most widely recognized. It’s classically known and cited. But it’s also very obvious and trackable. If you’re continuously turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to.
- Straining to hear in noisy environments: Picking individual voices in a crowd is one of the things that the brain is extremely good at. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. It can quickly become a chore to try to hear what’s happening in a crowded space. Having a hearing test is the best choice if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a tough time following along.
- You can’t differentiate between “s” and “th” sounds anymore: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a wavelength that becomes increasingly tough to differentiate as your hearing worsens. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
- You’re asking people to repeat what they said often: This one shouldn’t come as much of a shock. But, typically, you won’t realize you’re doing it. When you have a challenging time hearing something, you might request some repetition. When this starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags around your ears.
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 powerful indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re discreet.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another sign 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.
- Chronic headaches: Your ears will still be struggling to hear even as your hearing is going. They’re working hard. And that sustained strain also strains your brain and can translate into chronic headaches.
- Trouble focusing: It may be difficult to achieve necessary levels of concentration to accomplish your daily tasks if your brain has to invest more resources to hearing. You might find yourself with concentration problems as a consequence.
It’s a smart plan to get in touch with us for a hearing exam if you’re experiencing any of these age related signs of hearing loss. Then, we can formulate treatment plans that can protect your hearing.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.