Age Related Hearing Loss
Age related hearing is known as presbycusis. One in three individuals over age 60 have hearing loss and one in two over age 80 have hearing loss. At least, that’s what the statistics say, but based on my patients over age 60 I would say the number with age related hearing loss is higher. Age related hearing loss can begin as early as age 18.
There are two main categories of hearing loss – conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. Presbycusis occurs when tiny hairs inside the ears are damaged. These hairs pick up sound waves and convert them into nerve signals that the brain is able translate as sound. Once damaged these tiny hairs are not repaired, or replaced so any hearing loss is permanent.
Age related hearing loss is a form of sensorineural hearing loss. Age related hearing loss is progressive, gradual, and usually bilateral (both ears). It’s characterized by a loss of high-pitched or high frequency sounds.
Some degree of age related hearing loss is inevitable, but other factors like excessive loud noise can contribute to hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss can minimize it by using ear protection whenever around loud noises – shooting firearms, mowing the lawn, and operating any other loud pieces of machinery.
Signs of Age Related Hearing Loss
If you experience any of the following you probably have some degree of presbycusis.
- Needing to turn the volume up on the television or radio.
- Ask others to repeat what they just said.
- Feel like others are not speaking clearly or are mumbling.
- Difficulty hearing in the presence of background noise (like at a restaurant).
- You find yourself nodding in agreement even though you have no clue what was said.
Hearing Loss and Quality of Life
Hearing loss of any kind can significantly impact one’s quality of life. Depression, anxiety, and poor interpersonal relationships can result from untreated hearing loss. Many individuals are “too proud” to use a hearing aid, but become more receptive to consider using one once they realize the effects that hearing loss has on their quality of life. In addition, today’s hearing aids are less noticeable for those concerned about appearances.
Don’t be too vain. If you think you might have hearing loss be evaluated by an audiologist. Life is more enjoyable if you can hear the sounds of life.