Hearing loss is the partial or total inability to hear sound in both or one of your ears. With age, hearing loss may gradually start to develop and many people fail to realise what’s happening until the damage has already happened. Mostly, age-related hearing loss affects people who are over the age of 65. However, young people can also experience hearing loss due to different factors like chemicals in a cigarette, machines at work or loud music. While certain types of hearing loss can be treated effectively, they require early intervention. That’s why it is important for you to pay close attention to the first signs of hearing loss. OnlyMyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Sumit Kumar Gaur (MBBS MS ENT) Ashadeep ENT Centre Bengaluru, Karnataka, to know about the early warning signs of hearing loss.
The Early Signs of Hearing Loss
Here are some of the signs which indicate that it is time to evaluate your hearing:
1. Ringing in the Ears
Ringing or various sounds in your ears like clicking, roaring, hissing or buzzing is called tinnitus. Tinnitus can indicate different conditions such as thyroid problems, heart disease and ear infections, one of its major causes is hearing loss brought about by noise. Tinnitus in older people can also cause the onset of hearing loss. If you’re experiencing such symptoms, it is always advisable to contact the doctor.
2. Trouble following Conversations in Noisy or Crowded Places
You may not experience much difficulty in hearing people while interacting with them in a calm and quiet place. However, when you try to get into a conversation with a person in a noisy place like a restaurant or a club, you may notice difficulty in hearing the other person. If that is the case then you’re probably suffering from hidden hearing loss. As a result of that, you may miss out on important parts of the conversation and respond inappropriately.
3. Certain Sounds Seem Louder
Are you startled easily by loud noises? Well, it can be due to a phenomenon called “recruitment” which commonly occurs in people with hearing loss. It happens as people usually don’t lose all their hair cells in the ears at the same time. When there is a loud sound, it triggers the healthy cells to respond more forcefully than they normally would — so louder noises can be more startling or also sound distorted.
4. A Feeling of Clogged Ears
Your ears may feel clogged when there’s too much fluid or wax in your ears. However, if the doctor tells you that your ears are clear then it’s always a good idea to get your ears tested for hearing difficulties. Due to age, certain sounds may seem muffled or dull which can give a similar feeling to a clogged ear.
5. Becoming Forgetful
Remembering things becomes a lot more difficult when you don’t hear things clearly. Sometimes what might appear as forgetfulness may be due to hearing loss which results in not catching the information properly. However, hearing problems can also cause cognitive problems. The brain needs auditory stimulation for proper functioning otherwise you have the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. This is the reason why it’s important to address hearing issues early and get hearing aids if required.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, it’s important that you get your ears tested as soon as possible. An ear specialist can evaluate your hearing and help you determine the next course of action.