It’s often said that hearing loss is a gradual process. That’s why it can be quite pernicious. Your hearing gets worse not in huge leaps but by little steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your hearing challenging to keep track of, particularly if you aren’t looking for it. For this reason, it’s important to be familiar with the early signs of hearing loss.
An entire assortment of related issues, such as 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 possible. Timely treatment can also help you maintain your present hearing levels. Noticing the early warning signs is the best way to ensure treatment.
It can be hard to observe early signs of hearing loss
Early hearing loss has subtle symptoms. It isn’t like you get 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. When your hearing begins to go, your brain can start to compensate, helping you follow discussions or determine who said what. Similarly, if your left ear starts to fade, perhaps your right ear starts to compensate and you unconsciously begin 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 concerned that your hearing (or the hearing of a family member) may be waning due to age, there are some common signs you can watch out for:
- Boosted volume on the TV, radio, or mobile phone: This is probably the single most well-known sign of hearing loss. It’s classically known and cited. But it’s also very noticeable and trackable. If you’re frequently turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you’re not hearing as well as you used to.
- Straining to hear in loud environments: One thing your brain is remarkably good at is picking out individual voices in a busy space. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. It can quickly become a chore to try to hear what’s happening in a busy room. Getting a hearing assessment is the best option if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a tough time following along.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are hard to differentiate.: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a frequency that becomes increasingly tough to differentiate as your hearing worsens. You should pay especial attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
- You regularly find yourself asking people to repeat what they said: This one shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. In most cases, though, you will do this without recognizing that you are doing it at all. When you have a hard time hearing something, you may request some repetition. Some red flags should go up when this starts happening.
Look out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, too
There are some signs of hearing loss that don’t seem to have much to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, without a doubt, but they can be a major indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Trouble focusing: It may be difficult to achieve necessary levels of concentration to accomplish your daily activities if your brain has to invest more resources to hearing. You may find yourself with concentration issues as a consequence.
- Frequent headaches: Your ears will still be struggling to hear even as your hearing is declining. They’re doing hard work. And that sustained strain also strains your brain and can lead to chronic headaches.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, an indicator of hearing loss. You may think the quiet makes it easier to fall asleep, but the strain puts your brain into a chronic state of alertness.
When you detect any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to identify whether or not you’re experiencing the early stages of hearing impairment. Then, we can develop treatment plans that can protect your hearing.
Hearing loss develops gradually. With the correct knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.