Age related hearing loss is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Approximately one in three people aged over 65 are affected by some form of hearing loss.
According to the National Institute on Deafness & Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), "nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74, and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss."
In this blog post, we guide you through the causes, symptoms, prevention, and management of age related hearing loss.
What is the Cause of Age Related Hearing Loss?
Age related hearing loss, which is also known as presbycusis, is a type of sensorineural hearing loss condition. It is sometimes called "nerve deafness" and affects the inner ear hair cells. The hair cells are tiny structures within the cochlea of the inner ear and play an important role in transferring information contained within incoming sound waves to the nerves responsible for hearing and onto the brain.
Damage to these hair cells can be due to the body’s natural aging processes, and hearing loss can result due to the incapability of the body to grow new and replace compromised cells. Besides the nerve or hair cells damage, age related hearing loss can result from changes in the structure of the inner ear or insufficient and impaired blood flow to the ear.
What are the Symptoms of Age Related Hearing Loss?
The severity of the symptoms may vary from one person to the next. They can include difficulty in hearing people around you within noisy environments. The background noise may seem far too loud compared to the actual speech.
You may also notice the following situations:
- Sounds seem less clear
- Not being able to hear the telephone or doorbell ringing when others can
- Other people may sound mumbled or slurred
- Inability to hear high-pitched sounds such as "s" and "th"
- Often having to ask people to repeat what they said
- Necessity to have the television or radio turned up much higher than other family members find comfortable
- Feeling tired after participating in a conversation held within background noise
How to Determine Hearing Loss
There are several steps that can help you determine whether you are suffering from hearing loss.
First, it is advisable to watch out for any of the above-mentioned symptoms, especially if they occur regularly. If in doubt, you can first check your hearing with the help of one of the available free online hearing tests that will give you a basic indication as to hearing loss presence. Click the link below to take our free online hearing test.
These quick and painless tests will measure your responses to sounds of varying tones and help provide an approximate indication of any present hearing loss. Of course, for a really accurate and detailed check, it is highly advisable to visit your audiologist, as soon as you begin to experience any difficulties hearing.
Hearing Loss Treatment & Management
Some aspects of hearing loss are medically treatable (e.g. hearing loss due to wax blockage in the ear canal) and can be fully cured, in cases where the right measures are taken in time.
Others result from irreversible processes and can be managed with specifically designed devices such as:
A straightforward hearing assessment will help identify any hearing impairment and a health professional will be able to recommend the correct treatment plan for you.
Prevention of Age Related Hearing Loss
Although you can expect to experience a certain level of hearing loss as you age, you can successfully delay the process by avoiding several unhealthy habits:
- Listening to loud music with headphones or ear plugs – it is important to avoid the continuous exposure to loud noises.
- Intake of medications that might contribute to hearing loss.
- An unhealthy diet that can lead to diabetes, excessive weight, high blood pressure and heart problems.
The Danger of Unmanaged Age Related Hearing loss
The main problem with age related hearing loss is that it usually progresses with time quite slowly and the opportunity to take control of the condition while still in its mild form is often missed. If the problem is ignored and its severity increases, it can seriously affect the sufferer’s social life and communication with others and lead to unpleasant situations not only for them but family and friends as well. Such troubles can further evolve in serious conditions such as depression and loss of self-confidence, as well as constant feelings of anxiety, frustration, and inadequacy.
How Can Hearing Direct Help?
If you have any age related hearing loss queries, get in touch and our expert team will do their best to assist you.