Hearing loss is well recognized to be a process that progresses slowly. That’s why it can be quite pernicious. Your hearing gets worse not in giant leaps but by little steps. So if you’re not watching closely, it can be difficult to measure the decrease in your hearing. For this reason, it’s worthwhile to be familiar with the early signs of hearing loss.
Even though it’s hard to detect, dealing with hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide variety of related disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also avoid additional deterioration with prompt treatment. The best way to ensure treatment is to notice the early warning signs as they are present.
Early signs of hearing loss can be hard to spot
Early hearing loss has elusive symptoms. It isn’t like you wake up one day 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 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. Likewise, if your left ear begins to fade, perhaps 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
If you’re worried that your hearing (or the hearing of a loved one) may be failing as a result of age, there are some common signs you can watch out for:
- You’re asking people to repeat themselves often: This one shouldn’t come as a huge shock. In most cases, though, you will do this without recognizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a challenging time hearing something, you might request some repetition. When this begins to happen more often, it should raise some red flags around your ears.
- Elevated volume on devices: This is probably the single most well-known sign of hearing loss. It’s classic and frequently cited. But it’s also easy to notice and easy to track (and easy to relate to). You can be sure that your hearing is starting to go if you’re constantly turning the volume up.
- You can’t tell the difference between “s” and “th” sounds now: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a frequency that becomes increasingly difficult to discern as your hearing worsens. You should pay especial attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become confused.
- Straining to hear in loud settings: Picking individual voices in a crowd is one of the things that the brain is quite good at. But your brain has increasingly less information to work with as your hearing worsens. It can quickly become overwhelming to try to hear what’s happening in a crowded space. Having a hearing examination is the best option if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a difficult time following along.
You should also be on the lookout for these more subtle signs
There are some signs of hearing loss that don’t appear to have very much to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, undoubtedly, but they can be a major indicator that your ears are struggling.
- 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.
- Difficulty concentrating: It could be hard to obtain necessary levels of concentration to accomplish your day-to-day tasks if your brain has to devote more resources to hearing. As a result, you may experience some trouble focusing.
- Frequent headaches: When your hearing begins to decrease, your ears are still straining to hear sounds. They’re working hard. And that extended strain also strains your brain and can translate into chronic headaches.
When you observe any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to determine whether or not you are experiencing the early development of hearing impairment. Then, we can develop treatment plans that can safeguard your hearing.
Hearing loss develops gradually. With the correct knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.