It’s frequently said that hearing loss is a gradual process. That’s why it can be quite insidious. Your hearing gets worse not in huge leaps but by tiny steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your ears hard to track, especially if you aren’t looking for it. That’s why identifying the first signs of age-related hearing loss can be a big help for your ear-defense.
Even though it’s difficult to detect, treating hearing loss early can help you avoid a wide variety of associated conditions, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also avoid additional degeneration with timely treatment. The best way to ensure treatment is to notice the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be challenging to observe early signs of hearing loss
The first indications of hearing loss are usually subtle. It’s not like you wake up one day and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything quieter than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become folded into your everyday lives.
You see, the human body and brain, are incredibly adaptable. Your brain will begin to compensate when your hearing begins to go and can use other clues to determine what people are saying. Similarly, 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.
First signs of age-related hearing loss
If you’re concerned that your hearing (or the hearing of a family member) may be failing as a result of age, there are some familiar signs you can watch out for:
- Elevated volume on devices: This indication of hearing loss is possibly the most widely recognized. It’s classically known and mentioned. But it’s also very obvious and trackable. You can be certain that your hearing is starting to go if you’re always turning the volume up.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are difficult to distinguish.: There’s something about the wavelength that these sounds vibrate on that can make them particularly hard to hear when your ears aren’t at their peak. The same goes for other consonants as well, but you should particularly keep your eye on those “s” and “th” sounds.
- You regularly find yourself asking people to repeat what they said: This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But, often, you won’t recognize you’re doing it. Naturally, if you have a hard time hearing something, you will ask people to repeat themselves. When this starts happening more often, it should raise some red flags around your ears.
- Straining to hear in loud environments: Distinguishing individual voices in a crowd is one thing that the brain is extremely good at. But your brain has increasingly less information to work with as your hearing gets worse. Hearing in a crowded space can quickly become a chore. Getting a hearing test is the best choice if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a hard time following along.
Look out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, as well
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 major indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Trouble focusing: If your brain is having to devote more resources to hearing, you could have less concentration power available to get through your daily routines. As a result, you may experience some difficulty focusing.
- Chronic headaches: Your ears will still be struggling to hear even as your hearing is going. They’re doing hard work. And straining like this over sustained periods can trigger chronic headaches.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, a sign of hearing loss. You probably think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but straining to hear puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
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 help you safeguard your hearing with the right treatment plan.
Hearing loss develops gradually. But you can stay ahead of it with the right knowledge.
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