It’s often said that hearing loss is a gradual process. That’s why it can be quite insidious. Your hearing grows worse not in big leaps but by little steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your ears challenging to keep track of, particularly if you aren’t looking for it. For this reason, it’s important to be acquainted with the early signs of hearing loss.
Even though it’s hard to identify, dealing with hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide variety of associated disorders, including depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also prevent further deterioration with prompt treatment. 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
Early hearing loss has subtle symptoms. It’s not like you get up one morning and, all of a sudden, you can’t hear anything quieter than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become folded into your everyday lives.
The human body and brain, you see, are incredibly adaptable. When your hearing starts to go, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow discussions or figure out who said what. Similarly, if your left ear begins to fade, maybe 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.
First indications of age-related hearing loss
There are some well known signs to watch for if you think that you or a family member might be going through the beginning of age associated hearing loss:
- You regularly find yourself needing people to repeat themselves: This one shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. But, typically, you won’t recognize you’re doing it. Naturally, if you have difficulty hearing something, you will ask people to repeat what they said. Some red flags should go up when this begins happening.
- Straining to hear in loud settings: Picking out individual voices in a crowd is one of the things that the brain is very good at. But your brain has increasingly less information to work with as your hearing gets worse. It can quickly become overwhelming to try to hear what’s going on in a busy room. If following these conversations is more difficult than it used to be (or you find yourself opting out of more conversations than you previously did), it’s worth getting your ears assessed.
- 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 difficult to hear when your ears aren’t at their optimum level. The same goes for other consonants also, but you should especially keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
- Elevated volume on devices: This is probably the single most recognized indication of hearing loss. It’s classic and often cited. But it’s also extremely obvious and trackable. If you’re frequently 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 a few signs of hearing loss that don’t appear to have much to do with your hearing. These signs can be strong indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re discreet.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, an indicator 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.
- Frequent headaches: When your hearing starts to decline, your ears are still struggling to hear sounds. They’re doing hard work. And straining like this over sustained periods can trigger chronic headaches.
- Trouble concentrating: If your brain is having to devote more resources to hearing, you could have less concentration energy available to accomplish your daily routines. As a result, you may observe some difficulty focusing.
When you observe any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with us to figure out whether or not you’re dealing with the early stages of hearing decline. Then we can help you safeguard your hearing with the best treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.