Hearing loss is well known to be a process that develops slowly. It can be rather insidious for this exact reason. Your hearing gets worse not in big leaps but by little steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your hearing challenging to keep track of, particularly if you aren’t watching for it. That’s why identifying the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big boost for your ear-defense.
Even though it’s difficult to identify, treating hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide range of related disorders, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Prompt treatment can also help you maintain your current hearing levels. Noticing the early warning signs is the best way to ensure treatment.
Initial signs of hearing loss can be difficult to identify
The first indications of hearing loss tend to be subtle. It’s not like you wake up one morning and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become incorporated into your day-to-day lives.
The human body and brain, you see, are amazingly adaptable. When your hearing begins to fade, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow conversations or determine who said what. Likewise, if your left ear begins to fade, perhaps 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
If you’re worried that your hearing (or the hearing of a family member) may be waning as a result of age, there are some common signs you can watch out for:
- You can’t differentiate between “s” and “th” sounds now: There’s something about the frequency that these sounds vibrate on that can make them especially hard to hear when your ears aren’t at their peak. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
- You regularly find yourself needing people to repeat what they said: This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In most instances, though, you will do this without even realizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a challenging time hearing something, you might request some repetition. When this begins to happen more often, it should raise some red flags around your ears.
- A tough time hearing in busy spaces: Picking individual voices in a crowd is one of the things that the brain is very good at. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. It can quickly become overwhelming to try to hear what’s going on in a crowded room. Having a hearing assessment is the best choice if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a hard time following along.
- Increased volume on devices: This indication of hearing loss is perhaps the most widely recognized. It’s classic and often cited. But it’s also easy to see and easy to track (and easy to relate to). If you’re continuously turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to.
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 are subtle signs, no doubt, but they can be a leading indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Difficulty focusing: If your brain is having to devote more energy to hearing, you may have less concentration power available to accomplish your everyday routines. As a result, you might observe some trouble focusing.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, a sign of hearing loss. It seems as if it would be easier to fall asleep when it’s quiet, but you go into a chronic state of restless alertness when you’re always straining to hear.
- Persistent headaches: When your hearing starts to decrease, your ears are still struggling to hear sounds. They’re doing hard work. And that sustained strain also strains your brain and can lead to chronic headaches.
It’s a smart plan to get in touch with us for a hearing test if you’re noticing any of these age related signs of hearing loss. Then we can help you protect your hearing with the right treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slow-moving process. But you can stay ahead of it with the correct knowledge.