Hearing loss is widely recognized to be a process that develops slowly. It can be quite insidious for this very reason. Your hearing doesn’t deteriorate in big leaps but rather in little steps. So if you’re not watching closely, it can be challenging to keep track of the decline in your hearing. 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 identify, dealing with hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide range of associated conditions, including depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Prompt treatment can also help you preserve your current hearing levels. The best way to ensure treatment is to recognize the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be difficult to detect early signs of hearing loss
The first indications of hearing loss are usually subtle. It’s not like you get up one day and, all of a sudden, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become folded into your everyday lives.
You see, the human body and brain, are extremely adaptable. Your brain will start to compensate when your hearing starts to go and can make use of other clues to determine what people are saying. Likewise, if your left ear starts to fade, perhaps 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 family member) might be failing as a result of age, there are some common signs you can watch out for:
- You can’t tell the difference between “s” and “th” sounds anymore: There’s something about the wavelength that these sounds vibrate on that can make them particularly difficult to hear when your ears aren’t at their optimum level. The same goes for other consonants also, but you should particularly pay attention to those “s” and “th” sounds.
- You regularly find yourself needing people to repeat themselves: This might be surprising. In most situations, though, you will do this without even realizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a challenging time hearing something, you may request some repetition. When this begins to happen more often, it should raise some red flags about your hearing.
- Straining to hear in noisy environments: Picking individual voices in a crowd is one thing that the brain is quite good at. But your brain has progressively less information to work with as your hearing worsens. Hearing in a busy space can quickly become a chore. If following 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 tested.
- Increased volume on devices: This is probably the single most recognized indication of hearing loss. It’s classic and frequently quoted. But it’s also extremely obvious 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.
Keep your eye out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, too
There are a few signs of hearing loss that don’t appear to have much to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, undoubtedly, but they can be a leading indicator that your ears are struggling.
- 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. You may find yourself with concentration problems as a result.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, a sign of hearing loss. You might think the quiet makes it easier to sleep, but straining to hear puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Chronic headaches: When your hearing starts to decline, your ears are still struggling to hear sounds. They’re working hard. And straining like this over sustained periods can trigger chronic headaches.
It’s a good idea to get in touch with us for a hearing exam if you’re noticing any of these age related signs of hearing loss. Then, we can come up with treatment plans that can safeguard your hearing.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. With the correct knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.