It’s commonly said that hearing loss is a slow-moving process. That’s part of what can make it quite pernicious. Your hearing gets worse not in giant leaps but by little steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your ears challenging to track, especially if you aren’t watching for it. Because of this, 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 avoid a wide variety of associated disorders, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also prevent additional 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 observe early signs of hearing loss
Early hearing loss has subtle symptoms. You don’t, suddenly, lose a major portion of your hearing. Instead, the early signs of hearing loss camouflage themselves in your everyday activities.
You see, the human body and brain, are amazingly adaptable. When your hearing begins to fade, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow discussions or figure out who said what. Maybe you unconsciously begin to tilt your head to the right when your hearing starts to go on the left side.
But there’s only so much compensation that your brain can accomplish.
First indications of age-related hearing loss
If you’re worried that your hearing (or the hearing of a loved one) might 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: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a wavelength that becomes progressively tough to differentiate as your hearing fades. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become confused.
- You’re asking people to repeat themselves frequently: This one shouldn’t come as a huge shock. But, often, you won’t realize you’re doing it. When you have a challenging time hearing something, you might request some repetition. Some red flags should go up when this starts happening.
- Straining to hear in loud settings: Picking individual voices in a crowded space is one of the things 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. If following these conversations is harder than it used to be (or you find yourself opting out of more conversations than you used to), it’s worth getting your ears examined.
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This sign 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 monitor (and easy to relate to). If you’re continuously turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you’re not hearing as well as you used to.
You should also be on the lookout for these more subtle signs
Some subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they have no connection to your hearing. These signs can be strong indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re subtle.
- Difficulty concentrating: If your brain is having to devote more energy to hearing, you could have less concentration energy available to get through your everyday routines. You may find yourself with concentration problems as a result.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another sign of hearing loss is insomnia. It seems like 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 begins to decrease, your ears are still struggling to hear sounds. They’re working hard. And straining like this over sustained periods can cause chronic headaches.
It’s a smart plan to give us a call for a hearing test if you’re experiencing any of these age related signs of hearing loss. Then we can help you safeguard your hearing with the best treatment plan.
Hearing loss progresses gradually. But you can stay ahead of it with the right knowledge.