We are born feeble and go through many developmental stages in our life. These stages make us sturdy and intelligent beings. When we reach the peak, aging allows for the onset of the most dreaded time of our life, the old age.
Aging is reflected visibly in our senses, as they start getting weaker. This decline in senses can cause partial or full loss of one or more senses. The senses at the highest risk of complete loss are vision and hearing.
In the USA, every third person aging between 65 and 74 suffers from hearing loss, whereas half the people older than 75 have difficulty hearing. The reason behind is age-related hearing loss.
What is Age-Related Hearing Loss (Presbycusis)?
Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, signifies hearing loss which takes place slowly as we advance in age. Presbycusis is a common medical condition that can affect the elderly. In the majority of cases, this type of hearing loss affects both ears with the same degree.
Age-related hearing loss comes with a host of consequences, which can even lead to life-threatening situations:
- This issue can make it problematic for the sufferer to comprehend and pursue doctor’s advice
- Difficulty in talking on the phone
- Late or no reaction to audible warning signs such as fire and smoke alarms
- Late or no attention to answer to the doorbells
- No attention to the vehicle honking horns
- Disinterest in social gatherings due to difficulty in communication
The sufferer can go into isolation gradually, becoming a social outcast. The isolation can be caused by others’ irritation and/or ignorance, and sometimes it is self-inflicted.
Its slow occurrence causes many changes inside ear over time. The changes include:
- Inner ears’ structure
- Blood flow to the ear
- Damage to the hearing nerves
- Changes in the way brain process speech and sound
- Damage to the tiny hairs inside ear which transmit sound to the brain
The following can also accelerate the deterioration:
- Poor blood flow
- Certain medications
- Regular presence at noisy noises
The symptoms usually start with the difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds, followed by voices of women and kids, background noises and other speaking near you. Other symptoms are:
- Difficulty hearing in noisy places
- Inability to identify the difference between ‘s’ and ‘th’ sounds
- Frequent ear ringing, commonly known as tinnitus
- Listening to radio or TV at a volume that is louder for others
- Asking others to repeat, sometimes more than once
- Failure to comprehend conversations on the phone
If you notice a few of the above symptoms, see your doctor immediately. The doctor will conduct a physical exam to determine the precise status and type of your hearing loss. During diagnosis, the doctor might use an otoscope to examine the ear internally.
If the doctor can’t diagnose any other type and causes of your hearing issue, you will certainly be diagnosed with age-related hearing loss.
To determine the hearing loss precisely, an audiologist will conduct a hearing test.
Your doctor will most probably recommend the following solutions:
- Improve your quality of life
- Use hearing aids and assistive devices like telephone amplifier
- Cochlear implantation in extreme hearing loss