A decline in hearing that people experience as they age is termed Age-Related Hearing Impairment or presbycusis. Nothing remains the same as we age. Our bones shrink, our eyesight weakens, and in the same way, our hearing deteriorates too.
This is hearing loss related to normal aging, where people start losing their hearing ability after the age of 40, and for some people, this gets worse over time. Age-related hearing loss is the most common hearing loss in the elderly and generally occurs after age 65. According to the national institute on deafness and other communication disorders (NIDCD), around 1 in 3 adults suffer from hearing loss due to aging between 65 to 75 years.
Symptoms Of Age-Related Hearing Loss
Age-related hearing loss generally occurs over many years, making it difficult to detect until it starts affecting the daily life of the person. People suffering from age-related hearing loss first experience a decline in their ability to hear high-frequency sounds, such as the beep or tone of a cell phone. As children have high-pitched sounds, it's even more difficult for the elderly to listen to kids.
Some other Age-Related Hearing Loss Symptoms include;
- Increasing the volume of TV or radio.
- Trouble understanding speech in loud, crowded places such as social gatherings, meetings, restaurants, etc.
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing) in one or both ears.
- Having trouble comprehending speech with background noise
- Difficulty in hearing and understanding the same sounding consonants such as p, b, etc.
- Trouble talking over the phone
- Not being able to hear everyday noises like the humming of a bird, microwave beep, sound of a fan, etc.
- Asking people to repeat themselves
Causes Of Age-Related Hearing Loss
Hearing loss with age occurs gradually so it often goes unnoticed for a while. As we get older, our hearing starts to deteriorate along with other senses. Some people might just have some difficulty in hearing, some might develop age-related hearing loss, and some may lose substantially more hearing than others.
Loss of hearing in old age generally results from a number of physical, genetic, health, and lifestyle factors.
- Changes in the inner ear occur when you age; such as in the structure of the inner ear, the nerves responsible for hearing, and how the brain processes sound. Inner ear hair cells cannot regrow or regenerate, so the damage to these cells is permanent and this is one of the main reasons for hearing loss in the elderly.
- Genetics, or a family history of hearing loss, also influences the severity of the hearing loss, possibility of developing it, and also the age at which it might begin.
- Some medical conditions that are responsible for supplying blood to the ear might also be responsible for age-related hearing loss, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. The medications for these diseases can also be ototoxic.
- Environmental factors, such as long-term exposure to loud noise, smoking, and often contact with heavy metals like mercury, also play a role in the development of age-related hearing loss.
How is Age-Related Hearing Loss Treated?Treatment for age-related type of hearing loss depends on the severity of your hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is mainly treated by digital, modern hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify sound for better hearing. Different types of hearing aids are available at Hear+Hi and you can choose the best one for you, based on your lifestyle and needs. Hearing aids are considered the most beneficial treatment for hearing loss.
How To Improve Hearing Power In Old Age? - Treatments for Hearing Loss.
Cochlear implants are another type of hearing aid that is surgically placed behind the ear. They stimulate the auditory nerve to help in hearing. Cochlear implants are used to treat profound or severe hearing loss.
Assistive hearing devices like telephone and television amplifiers are also suggested to improve your hearing.
Risk Factors Of Age-Related Hearing Loss
Although hearing loss associated with old age is common, it should not be taken just as “a part of getting older”. Hearing stimulates and helps the brain function, and untreated hearing loss can have a significant impact on your mental health. Depression, social isolation, and anxiety often occur after such conditions. Cognitive abilities like memory and thinking also tend to decline faster in people suffering from hearing loss. Research has indicated that untreated hearing loss in adults especially the elderly puts them at risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's along with other physical and emotional issues. Untreated hearing loss also poses safety threats like not being able to hear the smoke alarms or respond to warnings. Not being able to hear properly can also cause trouble understanding important information such as financial or legal.
The sooner you get the treatment for your hearing loss, the better it is for your brain.
Living With Age-Related Hearing Loss
Elderly hearing loss is progressive. It gets worse over time and it’s not easy living with age-related hearing loss. But the support of your loved ones can make this road a lot smoother. Educate people about your hearing loss and ask for their help as communication barriers arise. If you are having difficulty hearing then the first step you can take is getting a hearing test. You can take it at home, on your smartphone, by downloading the my hearing acuity app from Hear+Hi. It will tell you if you do have hearing loss, then you can look further into the treatments of hearing loss such as hearing aids. You can delay hearing loss with different treatments and precautions. The majority of people continue to live a healthy life after recieving proper treatment for their hearing loss.
Although age-related hearing loss is not curable, proper treatment can improve the quality of life.
Age Related Hearing Loss FAQ’s
What Age Do You Start Losing Hearing?
Statistically, hearing starts getting deteriorated after the age of 40 but it does not necessarily progress into hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss generally occurs after the age of 60 and worsens over time if no proper treatment is provided.
How To Prevent Hearing Loss In Old Age?
Age-related hearing loss can not be prevented however you can reduce the risk of hearing loss getting worse. You can take the following steps to protect your hearing.
Avoid loud environments such as stadiums, and concerts, keep the volume of the TV down, keep your health issues like diabetes and high blood pressure in control by maintaining a healthy weight and diet, and use earmuffs or noise cancellation earphones.