Hearing loss is well known to be a process that develops slowly. It can be rather insidious for this exact reason. Your hearing grows worse not in giant leaps but by little steps. And that can make the progressive decline in your hearing challenging to track, particularly if you aren’t watching for it. For this reason, it’s important 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 avoid a wide range of associated conditions, including depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Timely treatment can also help you safeguard your current hearing levels. The best way to ensure treatment is to notice the early warning signs as they are present.
It can be difficult to detect early signs of hearing loss
The first indications of hearing loss tend to be elusive. You don’t, all of a sudden, lose a large portion of your hearing. Instead, the early signs of hearing loss hide themselves in your everyday activities.
You see, the human body and brain, are incredibly adaptable. When your hearing starts to go, your brain can start to compensate, helping you follow conversations or determine who said what. Likewise, if your left ear starts to fade, perhaps your right ear starts to pick up the slack 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 waning as a result of age, there are some common signs you can watch out for:
- A tough time hearing in crowded spaces: One thing your brain is remarkably good at is following individual voices in a crowded space. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. Hearing in a crowded room can quickly become a chore. Getting a hearing test is the best option if you find yourself steering clear of more conversations because you’re having a difficult time following along.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are difficult to distinguish.: There’s something about the frequency that these sounds vibrate on that can make them especially hard to hear when your ears aren’t at their optimum level. You should pay especial attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become mixed up.
- Increased volume on the TV, radio, or cell phone: This sign of hearing loss is perhaps the most widely recognized. It’s classically known and cited. But it’s also very noticeable and trackable. If you’re constantly turning up the volume, that’s a sign that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to.
- You regularly find yourself asking people to repeat what they said: This one shouldn’t come as a huge shock. But, often, you won’t recognize you’re doing it. When you have a challenging time hearing something, you may request some repetition. When this begins to happen more often, it should raise some red flags around your ears.
You should also watch for these more subtle signs
Some subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they don’t have anything at all to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, without a doubt, but they can be a leading indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Difficulty focusing: If your brain is having to devote more resources 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.
- Frequent headaches: When your hearing starts 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.
- Restless nights: Ironically, another indication of hearing loss is insomnia. 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 observe any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to identify whether or not you are dealing with the early stages of hearing decline. Then we can help you protect your hearing with the right treatment plan.
Hearing loss develops gradually. With the correct knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.