It’s frequently said that hearing loss is a slow-moving process. It can be rather subtle for this exact reason. Your hearing doesn’t deteriorate in big leaps but rather in tiny steps. And that can make the gradual decline in your hearing hard to track, especially if you aren’t watching for it. That’s why recognizing the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big help for your ear-defense.
A whole variety of related issues, like anxiety, depression, and even dementia, can result from untreated hearing loss, so although it’s difficult to notice, it’s important to get hearing loss treated as early as possible. You will also avoid additional deterioration with timely treatment. Noticing the early warning signs is the best way to ensure treatment.
Initial signs of hearing loss can be hard to spot
The first signs of hearing loss are usually elusive. You don’t, all of a sudden, lose a major portion of your hearing. Instead, the early signs of hearing loss camouflage themselves in your day-to-day activities.
The human body and brain, you see, are amazingly adaptable. Your brain will begin to compensate when your hearing starts to go and can make use of other clues to figure out what people are saying. Maybe you unconsciously begin to tilt your head to the right when your hearing begins to go on the left side.
But there’s only so much compensation that your brain can achieve.
Age related hearing loss – initial signs
If you’re concerned that your hearing (or the hearing of a family member) might be failing due to age, there are some familiar signs you can keep an eye out for:
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are difficult to distinguish.: 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 optimum level. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become confused.
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This sign of hearing loss is possibly the most well known. It’s classically known and cited. But it’s also very obvious and trackable. You can be certain that your hearing is starting to go if you’re constantly turning the volume up.
- A tough time hearing in crowded spaces: Distinguishing individual voices in a crowded space is one of the things that the brain is quite good at. But your brain has progressively less information to work with as your hearing worsens. It can quickly become a chore to try to hear what’s going on in a busy space. If following these conversations is more difficult than it used to be (or you find yourself sitting out of more conversations than you previously did), it’s worth having your ears checked.
- You’re asking people to repeat what they said often: This may be surprising. In most cases, though, you will do this without even recognizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a hard time hearing something, you may request some repetition. When this starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags about your ears.
You should also watch for these more subtle signs
Some subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they don’t have anything at all to do with your hearing. These signs can be strong indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re discreet.
- Frequent headaches: Your ears will still be straining to hear even as your hearing is declining. They’re working hard. And straining like this over prolonged periods can cause chronic headaches.
- Trouble concentrating: It may be difficult to achieve necessary levels of concentration to get through your daily activities if your brain has to devote more resources to hearing. As a result, you might observe some trouble focusing.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another indication of hearing loss is insomnia. It seems like it would be easier to sleep when it’s quiet, but you go into a chronic state of restless alertness when you’re always straining to hear.
It’s a good plan to give us a call for a hearing exam if you’re noticing any of these age related signs of hearing loss. Then, we can develop treatment plans that can protect your hearing.
Hearing loss is a slowly advancing process. But you can stay ahead of it with the right knowledge.