6 Early Signs of Hearing Loss In Adults to Be Aware Of

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6 Early Signs of Hearing Loss In Adults to Be Aware Of

Our health becomes a little more complicated as we get older. The first signs of hearing loss in adults are gradual, like differences in physical appearance down to eyesight and hearing loss

These changes rarely happen overnight, and the beginnings of an age-related hearing problem can be subtle. 

What are the first signs of Hearing Loss in adults?

Symptoms of hear lossIt’s important to pay attention to the early signs of hearing loss before they develop further. Untreated hearing loss can leave people feeling isolated and stressed and lead to memory problems later. If any of these symptoms apply to you or a loved one, talk to your doctor or an experienced audiologist and book a hearing test. 

You Can’t Hear High-Pitched Noises

Cochlear nerve synapses in the inner ear degenerate as you get older. The cochlea is the spiral-shaped bone in your ear that helps you interpret sound. Ageing lessens the effectiveness of the cochlea to distinguish high-pitched sounds like children’s voices and birdsong. If you’re finding it difficult to understand or hear high-pitched voices and sounds — it could be one of the early signs of early hearing loss. 

Noisy Places Make Conversations Hard to Follow

Background noise is often at a lower pitch to human speech, particularly in consonants. In crowded areas such as shopping centres or restaurants, background noise can become overwhelming and make it difficult to hear the higher tones in human speech. As a result, you might avoid family gatherings and social situations where concentrating on speech becomes exhausting. 

You’re Straining to Listen

When you’re in a noisy place with multiple people speaking, your brain is working overtime to fill in the gaps to make sense of what is being said. This requires a great deal of effort to focus, and you might feel exhausted after social events. If you’re straining to listen and feel unusually tired at the end of the day, you probably have listening fatigue

Professionally fitted hearing aids can help ease listening fatigue from hearing loss, making conversations less of a chore, and allowing you to enjoy your social life again.

Lip Reading

When one sense stops working correctly, the brain cleverly tries to substitute this lack of information by using another sense. In the case of hearing loss, your eyesight tries to make up for it. If you find your eyes focusing on the speaker’s mouth more than you’re accustomed to, you are likely experiencing hearing problems. 

Ringing and Clogged up Ears

This can result from excessive ear wax or fluid build-up, making sounds seem muffled or dull in your ears. Ear infections increase the amount of fluid in your ear canal, leaving your ears feeling clogged or blocked. 

Tinnitus is also one of the signs of hearing loss, a ringing sensation in your ears. Tinnitus is a common condition, affecting 7.1 million adults in the UK. Like lip-reading, the brain can try to fill in missing frequencies resulting in a persistent ringing noise. This could be an early sign of losing your hearing, so make sure you speak to your doctor or audiologist if you’re concerned. 

Related:The Ultimate Guide on How to Get Rid of Tinnitus

Related: Can Ear wax cause Tinnitus?

You’re Turning up the Volume on the TV

If you find yourself turning up the volume on the TV more than usual, you might need to get a hearing test. TV shows often mix dialogue with music and sound effects, making it difficult to distinguish voices if you hear bass tones better. Other people will likely notice this symptom of hearing loss before you do — especially if they complain the TV is too loud.

What do our audiologist say?

Lee Fletcher“I often highlight the significance of identifying the early signs of hearing loss in adults. Indicators such as difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds, challenges in following conversations in noisy environments, experiencing listening fatigue, and an increased reliance on lip reading can all suggest potential hearing issues. These signs are often subtle and easily overlooked, but early intervention is crucial. Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, stress, and cognitive decline. If you or a loved one notice these symptoms, it’s essential to seek a professional evaluation and consider hearing aids or other interventions to maintain quality of life and overall well-being.”

Lee Fletcher, (RHAD), (BSHAA), Ba(Hons) Company Director, Principal Audiologist

What is the solution? Treatment for the early signs of Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss can impact your daily life, causing unwarranted stress and anxiety and other mental health conditions. Sufferers can feel lonely and tired from having to concentrate on interpreting sounds. That’s why it’s crucial to get a diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. 

Consult a healthcare professional or doctor to receive an accurate diagnosis of your condition. They can evaluate your hearing and recommend a hearing device that suits your budget and lifestyle. 

Hearing aids can amplify certain sounds, like those of a high frequency, without affecting your ability to hear lower frequencies. The range of hearing aids available means you can choose one that sits in the ear canal, hidden from view.

Related: Do I Need a Hearing Aid?

Your hearing should be treated as part of your overall physical health. Even if you aren’t experiencing enough early hearing loss signs to be concerned, don’t wait around.

What Causes the first signs of hearing loss? 

The first symptoms of hearing loss can occur for several reasons and often manifest gradually, making them easy to overlook. Here are some common reasons why these symptoms might appear:

1. Ageing (Presbycusis)

As we age, the structures within the ear, such as the hair cells in the cochlea, naturally deteriorate. This condition, known as presbycusis, is one of the most common causes of hearing loss in older adults. These hair cells are crucial for converting sound waves into electrical signals that the brain can interpret. Damage or loss of these cells leads to diminished hearing, especially high-frequency sounds (@NCOAging).

2. Exposure to Loud Noises

Frequent or prolonged exposure to loud noises can damage the hair cells in the inner ear. This can be due to occupational noise (e.g., from construction or factory work), recreational noise (e.g., loud music at concerts), or even daily activities (e.g., using headphones at high volumes). This type of hearing loss, known as noise-induced hearing loss, can result in a gradual decline in hearing ability over time.

Related Reading: Symptoms of ear damage from loud noise

3. Ear Infections and Diseases

Recurrent ear infections can cause damage to the middle ear structures, leading to hearing loss. Additionally, certain diseases such as otosclerosis (abnormal bone growth in the middle ear) and Meniere’s disease (affecting the inner ear) can contribute to hearing impairment.

4. Genetic Factors

Hearing loss can also be hereditary. If there is a family history of hearing loss, individuals might be more prone to developing hearing problems themselves. Genetic factors can affect the development and function of the ear, making some people more susceptible to hearing loss from a young age (@NCOAging).

5. Ototoxic Medications

Some medications are known to be ototoxic, meaning they can cause damage to the ear. These include certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and high doses of aspirin. Ototoxicity can result in temporary or permanent hearing loss, depending on the duration and dosage of the medication.

6. Trauma

Physical injury to the head or ear can lead to hearing loss. This might occur from a direct blow to the head, sudden changes in pressure, or insertion of objects into the ear canal. Trauma can damage the ear structures, leading to both temporary and permanent hearing issues.

7. Health Conditions

Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension can also contribute to hearing loss. These conditions affect blood flow and nerve function, which are critical for maintaining healthy ear function.

Schedule a hearing test with Regain Hearing and visit one of our specialist ear clinics in London and Kent. Get in touch today to secure an appointment.