Age Related Hearing Loss – the First Signs

Up close look at a thumb pressing the up button on the volume function of a tv remote.

Hearing loss is widely recognized to be a process that progresses gradually. It can be quite subtle for this very reason. Your hearing doesn’t get worse in big leaps but rather in tiny steps. So if you’re not paying close attention, it can be hard to keep track of the decline 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 identify, treating hearing loss early can help you prevent a wide range of associated disorders, including depression, anxiety, and even dementia. You will also protect against further deterioration with timely treatment. The best way to ensure treatment is to detect the early warning signs as they are present.

It can be hard to observe early signs of hearing loss

The first indications of hearing loss are usually subtle. It’s not like you wake up one morning and, all of a sudden, you can’t hear anything lower than 65 decibels. Instead, the early signs of hearing loss camouflage themselves in your day-to-day activities.

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 conversations or figure out who said what. Similarly, if your left ear begins to fade, maybe 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 indications of age-related hearing loss

If you’re worried that your hearing (or the hearing of a loved one) might be failing due to age, there are some familiar signs you can keep an eye out for:

  • Consonant sounds like “s” and “th” are hard to differentiate.: There’s something about the wavelength that these sounds vibrate on that can make them especially hard to hear when your ears aren’t at their peak. You should pay particular attention to the “s” and “th” sounds, but other consonant sounds can also become confused.
  • Elevated volume on devices: This is probably the single most well-known sign of hearing loss. It’s classic and often quoted. But it’s also extremely obvious 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 needing people to repeat themselves: This one shouldn’t come as a huge shock. But, typically, you won’t realize you’re doing it. Naturally, if you have a hard time hearing something, you will ask people to repeat themselves. Some red flags should go up when this begins happening.
  • Straining to hear in noisy environments: One of the things your brain is exceptionally good at is following individual voices in a busy room. But as your hearing gets worse, your brain has less information to work with. It can quickly become a chore to try to hear what’s happening in a crowded space. Having a hearing test is the best choice if you find yourself avoiding more conversations because you’re having a hard time following along.

Keep your eye out for these subtle signs of hearing loss, as well

There are a few signs of hearing loss that don’t seem to have much to do with your hearing. These are subtle signs, undoubtedly, but they can be a major indicator that your ears are struggling.

  • Difficulty concentrating: It could be hard to obtain necessary levels of concentration to get through your daily activities if your brain has to invest more resources to hearing. As a result, you might experience some difficulty focusing.
  • Restless nights: Ironically, another indication 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.
  • Persistent headaches: When your hearing starts to decrease, your ears are still struggling to hear sounds. They’re working hard. And straining like this over prolonged periods can trigger chronic headaches.

When you detect any of these signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us to figure out whether or not you’re dealing with the early stages of hearing impairment. Then we can help you protect your hearing with the best treatment plan.

Hearing loss develops gradually. With the right knowledge, you can stay ahead of it.


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.