It’s often said that hearing loss is a slow-moving process. That’s part of what can make it rather insidious. Your hearing grows worse not in huge leaps but by little steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your hearing hard to keep track of, especially if you aren’t looking for it. That’s why recognizing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big help for your ear-defense.
Even though it’s hard to detect, dealing with hearing loss early can help you avoid a wide range of related disorders, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Timely treatment can also help you preserve your current hearing levels. Detecting the early warning signs is the best way to guarantee treatment.
Early signs of hearing loss can be difficult to spot
The first signs of hearing loss are usually subtle. It’s not like you wake up one day and, all of a sudden, you can’t hear anything quieter than 65 decibels. Instead, the initial signs of hearing loss hide themselves in your everyday activities.
The human body and brain, you see, are incredibly adaptable. Your brain will begin to compensate when your hearing begins to go and can make use of other clues to determine what people are saying. Perhaps you unconsciously start to tilt your head to the right when your hearing starts to go on the left side.
But your ears and brain can only compensate so much.
First signs of age-related hearing loss
There are some well known signs to watch for if you think that you or a family member may be going through the onset of age associated hearing loss:
- You frequently find yourself asking people to repeat themselves: This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But, often, you won’t recognize you’re doing it. Naturally, if you have a hard time hearing something, you will ask people to repeat themselves. Some red flags should go up when this begins happening.
- Increased volume on the TV, radio, or mobile phone: This is perhaps the single most recognized indication of hearing loss. It’s common and frequently cited. But it’s also easy to see and easy to monitor (and easy to relate to). You can be sure that your hearing is beginning to go if you’re always turning the volume up.
- Straining to hear in loud environments: Picking individual voices in a crowd is one thing 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 busy room. If following 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 getting your ears tested.
- You can’t differentiate between “s” and “th” sounds now: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a wavelength that becomes progressively tough to discern as your hearing worsens. You should pay especial attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
Keep your eye out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, too
A few subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they have no connection to your hearing. These are subtle signs, no doubt, but they can be a major indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, an indicator of hearing loss. You may think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but straining to hear puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Persistent headaches: When your hearing starts to decrease, your ears are still straining to hear sounds. They’re doing hard work. And straining like this over sustained periods can trigger chronic headaches.
- Trouble focusing: It may be difficult to achieve necessary levels of concentration to accomplish your daily activities if your brain has to invest more energy to hearing. You may find yourself with concentration issues as a result.
It’s a smart plan to give us a call 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 safeguard your hearing.
Hearing loss progresses gradually. But you can stay ahead of it with the correct knowledge.