It’s commonly said that hearing loss is a slow-moving process. That’s why it can be rather insidious. Your hearing doesn’t worsen in giant leaps but rather in tiny steps. And that can make the gradual 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 spot, dealing with hearing loss early can help you avoid a wide range of associated disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also protect against further degeneration with prompt treatment. The best way to ensure treatment is to recognize the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be challenging to notice early signs of hearing loss
Early hearing loss has elusive symptoms. You don’t, suddenly, lose a large portion of your hearing. Instead, the initial signs of hearing loss camouflage themselves in your everyday activities.
You see, the human body and brain, are incredibly adaptable. Your brain will start to compensate when your hearing starts to go and can make use of other clues to figure out what people are saying. Likewise, if your left ear begins to fade, maybe 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.
Age related hearing loss – first signs
There are some common signs to watch for if you think that you or a family member might be experiencing the beginning of age related hearing loss:
- You frequently find yourself asking people to repeat what they said: This one shouldn’t come as much of a shock. But, typically, you won’t recognize you’re doing it. Obviously, if you have a hard time hearing something, you will ask people to repeat what they said. When this begins to happen more often, it should raise some red flags around your ears.
- Elevated volume on devices: This is perhaps the single most recognized sign of hearing loss. It’s common and often cited. But it’s also extremely obvious and trackable. You can be sure that your hearing is beginning to go if you’re always turning the volume up.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are hard to differentiate.: These consonant sounds tend to vibrate on a frequency that becomes increasingly hard to differentiate as your hearing fades. You should pay especial attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
- A difficult time hearing in busy spaces: Distinguishing individual voices in a crowded space is one thing that the brain is quite good at. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. Hearing in a busy space can quickly become a chore. Getting a hearing exam is the best choice if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a hard time following along.
You should also watch for these more subtle signs
A few subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they don’t have anything at all to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, without a doubt, but they can be a leading indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, a sign of hearing loss. You may think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but the strain puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
- Frequent headaches: Your ears will still be straining to hear even as your hearing is declining. They’re doing hard work. And that prolonged strain also strains your brain and can lead to chronic headaches.
- Difficulty concentrating: It could be hard to achieve necessary levels of concentration to accomplish your day-to-day 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 idea to get in touch with us for a hearing assessment if you’re noticing any of these age related signs of hearing loss. Then, we can formulate treatment plans that can protect your hearing.
Hearing loss progresses gradually. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.