It’s often said that hearing loss is a slow-moving process. That’s part of what can make it quite pernicious. Your hearing grows worse not in big leaps but by little steps. And that can make the gradual decline in your hearing challenging to keep track of, especially if you aren’t watching for it. For this reason, it’s worthwhile to be acquainted with the early signs of hearing loss.
Even though it’s difficult to identify, treating hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide range of related disorders, like depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also prevent further deterioration with prompt treatment. The best way to ensure treatment is to detect the early warning signs as they are present.
Initial signs of hearing loss can be difficult to spot
The first indications of hearing loss tend to be subtle. It isn’t like you wake up one morning and, very suddenly, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. The symptoms, instead, become incorporated into your everyday lives.
The human body and brain, you see, are amazingly adaptable. When your hearing starts to go, your brain can start to compensate, helping you follow discussions or determine who said what. Likewise, if your left ear starts to fade, maybe your right ear starts to compensate 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
There are some common signs to look out for if you think that you or a family member might be experiencing the onset of age associated hearing loss:
- You frequently find yourself needing people to repeat what they said: This may be surprising. But, typically, you won’t recognize you’re doing it. When you have a difficult time hearing something, you may request some repetition. Some red flags should go up when this begins to happen.
- Increased volume on devices: This is probably the single most well-known indication of hearing loss. It’s classic and frequently cited. But it’s also extremely obvious and trackable. You can be sure that your hearing is beginning to go if you’re always turning the volume up.
- Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are tough to differentiate.: These consonant sounds normally vibrate on a frequency that becomes progressively tough 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.
- A difficult time hearing in busy spaces: Distinguishing individual voices in a crowded space is one thing that the brain is very good at. But as your hearing worsens, your brain has less information to work with. Hearing in a crowded room can quickly become overwhelming. If hearing these conversations is harder than it used to be (or you find yourself sitting out of more conversations than you previously did), it’s worth having your ears assessed.
Look out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, too
A few subtle signs of hearing loss seem like they don’t have anything at all to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, undoubtedly, but they can be a leading indicator that your ears are struggling.
- Restless nights: Insomnia is, ironically, a sign of hearing loss. It seems as if 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.
- Frequent headaches: Your ears will still be straining to hear even as your hearing is going. They’re doing hard work. And that prolonged strain also strains your brain and can result in chronic headaches.
- Trouble concentrating: It may be difficult to obtain necessary levels of concentration to accomplish your day-to-day activities if your brain has to invest more energy to hearing. You may find yourself with concentration problems as a consequence.
When you detect any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to determine whether or not you’re dealing with the early stages of hearing impairment. Then, we can develop treatment plans that can protect your hearing.
Hearing loss develops gradually. But you can stay ahead of it with the correct knowledge.
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