It’s nearly impossible to see how we age day after day for one simple reason: We look at ourselves daily in the mirror and our eyes adjust to the subtle differences. Our body changes with time, but until we see a before-and-after photo, the shift is unrecognizably gradual from one day to the next.
The same can be said about our hearing. It may seem like your ears are just as good as they were yesterday or last month, but our hearing changes every day, too. While it’s difficult to distinguish these shifts, keeping an eye out for these symptoms of hearing loss is a good start.
1. How You Experience Your Surroundings Has Changed
There are many clues you can look for when trying to discern if your hearing has worsened. For instance, look at your TV or smartphone volume: do you have it maxed out, but still feel like you’re missing words? Do you always choose the most secluded spot in a restaurant because you don’t want to have to read lips or ask people to yell so you can hear them? Are you often overly tired?
Russell Broadhead, hearing instrument specialist at Heroes of Hearing in Tucson says, “When we have hearing loss and the brain has to use more resources to process what we are hearing, this can cause us to feel more fatigued.”
2. You’ve Grown Progressively Clumsier
As we age, a certain number of trips, stubbed toes or just general clumsiness is to be expected, but according to Broadhead, those with mild hearing loss can be three times more likely to experience frequent falls. Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institute of Aging believe there are a number of factors that could contribute to this. For one, if your brain is working overtime to identify simple sounds and words, fewer cognitive resources are being devoted to balance and spatial awareness. What’s more, if you’re not aware of your surroundings when it comes to people, animals or objects coming toward you, you’re not as nimble and able to reposition yourself, or adapt to changing terrain.
3. There’s Ringing in Your Ears
That annoying ringing in your ears that you hear after a concert, loud noises or just at random moments has a name – tinnitus. While it’s not always an indicator of permanent hearing loss, Broadhead says, “If you experience tinnitus, there is a higher chance that you also have hearing loss.”
From faint to very loud, tinnitus takes all forms. But you don’t have to just grin and bear it. “For those suffering with tinnitus, there is a new therapy that can help diminish how loud it is or help you not notice it as much,” Broadhead says. “The brain is a powerful organ.”
Even if you’re not experiencing these symptoms, Broadhead says it’s a good idea to get your hearing tested so you have a baseline from which to work. If you’re over age 50, you should be tested annually. However, he notes, because headphone usage has increased over the years, one in five teenagers has some hearing loss, too.
“The biggest takeaway is to not delay getting your hearing checked,” Broadhead warns. “Auditory deprivation, Alzheimer’s and dementia are real problems with no cure. Slowing the process or avoiding it completely can occur if you treat hearing loss earlier.”
If these symptoms seem all too familiar, Broadhead and the professionals at Heroes of Hearing can help. Teens and octogenarians alike should make their hearing a priority when it comes to getting checkups. To learn more about the services at Heroes of Hearing, visit them online at heroesofhearing.com or call them at (520) 230-3999.
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