Hearing loss is well recognized to be a process that develops gradually. It can be quite insidious for this exact reason. Your hearing gets worse not in big leaps but by little steps. So if you’re not paying close attention, it can be challenging to measure the decline in your hearing. Because of this, it’s worthwhile to be acquainted with the early signs of hearing loss.
A whole variety of related issues, like anxiety, depression, and even dementia, can result from untreated hearing loss, so although it’s hard to notice, it’s important to get hearing loss treated as early as you can. You will also avoid further degeneration with timely treatment. Observing the early warning signs is the best way to ensure treatment.
Early signs of hearing loss can be hard to spot
The first signs of hearing loss tend to be subtle. It’s not like you wake up one morning and, very suddenly, 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 incredibly adaptable. When your hearing starts to go, your brain can begin to compensate, helping you follow conversations 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 achieve.
First signs of age-related hearing loss
If you’re worried that your hearing (or the hearing of a family member) may be failing because of age, there are some familiar signs you can keep an eye out for:
- Increased volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This indication of hearing loss is perhaps the most widely recognized. It’s classically recognized and 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 frequently find yourself asking people to repeat themselves: This one shouldn’t come as much of a shock. But, typically, you won’t recognize you’re doing it. Obviously, if you have a hard time hearing something, you will ask people to repeat what they said. When this begins to happen more often, it should raise some red flags about your ears.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are difficult to differentiate.: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a wavelength that becomes increasingly hard to differentiate as your hearing fades. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
- Struggling to hear in loud settings: One thing your brain is exceptionally good at is following individual voices in a busy space. But your brain has progressively less information to work with as your hearing gets worse. It can quickly become overwhelming to try to hear what’s happening in a crowded space. If hearing these conversations is more difficult than it used to be (or you find yourself opting out of more conversations than you previously did), it’s worth having your ears checked.
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 powerful indicators that your ears are struggling even though they’re subtle.
- Persistent headaches: Your ears will still be straining to hear even as your hearing is going. They’re doing hard work. And that sustained strain also strains your brain and can lead to chronic headaches.
- Trouble concentrating: It may be hard to achieve necessary levels of concentration to get through your daily activities if your brain has to invest more resources to hearing. You might find yourself with concentration issues as a result.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another sign of hearing loss is insomnia. You probably think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but straining to hear puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
When you detect any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with us to figure out whether or not you’re experiencing the early stages of hearing decline. Then, we can formulate treatment plans that can protect your hearing.
Hearing loss progresses gradually. But you can stay ahead of it with the right knowledge.