Hearing loss is well recognized to be a process that develops slowly. That’s why it can be rather insidious. Your hearing gets worse not in huge leaps but by little steps. And that can make the gradual decline in your hearing challenging to track, particularly if you aren’t looking for it. For this reason, it’s important to be familiar with the early signs of hearing loss.
Even though it’s hard to spot, treating hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide variety of associated disorders, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also protect against further deterioration with timely treatment. The best way to ensure treatment is to recognize the early warning signs as they are present.
Initial signs of hearing loss can be difficult to spot
Early hearing loss has elusive symptoms. It isn’t like you wake up one morning and, all of a sudden, you can’t hear anything quieter than 65 decibels. Instead, the early signs of hearing loss camouflage themselves in your everyday activities.
The human body and brain, you see, are amazingly adaptable. When your hearing begins to go, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow conversations or determine who said what. Maybe you unconsciously start to tilt your head to the right when your hearing begins 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 look out for if you think that you or a family member might be experiencing the onset of age related hearing loss:
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or mobile phone: This sign of hearing loss is perhaps the most widely known. It’s common and frequently quoted. But it’s also easy to see and easy to monitor (and easy to relate to). You can be certain that your hearing is beginning to go if you’re constantly turning the volume up.
- You can’t differentiate between “s” and “th” sounds anymore: These consonant sounds tend to vibrate on a frequency that becomes progressively tough to differentiate as your hearing worsens. The same is true of other consonants as well, but you should particularly keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
- You frequently find yourself needing people to repeat what they said: This one shouldn’t come as a huge shock. In most situations, though, you will do this without even recognizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a challenging time hearing something, you may request some repetition. When this starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags around your ears.
- Struggling to hear in noisy settings: Picking individual voices in a crowded space is one of the things that the brain is very good at. But your brain has progressively less information to work with as your hearing gets worse. Hearing in a busy space can quickly become overwhelming. Getting a hearing exam is the best option if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a hard time following along.
Keep your eye out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, too
There are some signs of hearing loss that don’t seem 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.
- Frequent headaches: When your hearing starts to decline, your ears are still straining to hear sounds. They’re doing hard work. And that prolonged strain also strains your brain and can lead to chronic headaches.
- Difficulty concentrating: It may be difficult to achieve necessary levels of concentration to get through your daily tasks if your brain has to invest more energy to hearing. As a result, you might observe some trouble focusing.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another sign of hearing loss is insomnia. You probably think the quiet makes it easier to sleep, but the strain puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
When you observe any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to figure out whether or not you are dealing with the early development of hearing decline. Then we can help you protect your hearing with the best treatment plan.
Hearing loss is a slow-moving process. With the correct knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.