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What Causes Hearing Loss As We Age

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What Is Normal Hearing Loss As We Age

Causes of Hearing Loss


In the movies and on television, older people with hearing loss are often made the butt of good-natured jokes. Like the old man whos always yelling, Speak up, Sonny! or the old woman in early films going around with a long ear trumpet held tight to her ear. Scenes like these may get a few chuckles, but they depict a real situation thats anything but funny.

According to the stats, a third of people in the United States between 65 and 74 years old have some degree of hearing loss. It jumps to half when people pass 75. These numbers place hearing loss as one of the most common problems affecting older people.

With age-related hearing loss, theres usually no physical pain, but the frustration and embarrassment that sometimes accompany the condition can feel worse than physical pain.

Meet Joe

My mothers second husband, Joe, was a good man. In his late 70s when they married, Joe was short and gruff, raised in Pennsylvania in a big Italian family. He worked hard all his life and now was trying to enjoy retirement with his and my mothers lifes passion horse racing.

I have to admit that I found humor in observing those two on the couch as they watched the nightly recap of the days races at Santa Anita Park. Heres a typical excerpt:

MOM: Joe, why did Whittingham go with Pat Day instead of Shoemaker?

JOE: Huh?

MOM: I said, why did Pat Day replace Shoemaker in the fifth?

MOM: So, he replaced him.

JOE: Huh?

What Causes Age-Related Hearing Loss?

Causes Of Hearing Loss

Loud noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Noise from lawn mowers, snow blowers, or loud music can damage the inner ear, resulting in permanent hearing loss. Loud noise also contributes to tinnitus. You can prevent most noise-related hearing loss. Protect yourself by turning down the sound on your stereo, television, or headphones moving away from loud noise or using earplugs or other ear protection.

Earwax or fluid buildup can block sounds that are carried from the eardrum to the inner ear. If wax blockage is a problem, talk with your doctor. He or she may suggest mild treatments to soften earwax.

A punctured ear drum can also cause hearing loss. The eardrum can be damaged by infection, pressure, or putting objects in the ear, including cotton-tipped swabs. See your doctor if you have pain or fluid draining from the ear.

Health conditions common in older people, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, can contribute to hearing loss. Viruses and bacteria , a heart condition, stroke, brain injury, or a tumor may also affect your hearing.

Hearing loss can also result from taking certain medications. Ototoxic medications damage the inner ear, sometimes permanently. Some ototoxic drugs include medicines used to treat serious infections, cancer, and heart disease. Some antibiotics are ototoxic. Even aspirin at some dosages can cause problems. Check with your doctor if you notice a problem while taking a medication.

Why Do We Lose Hearing As We Age

Firstly, what causes hearing loss as we age? The most obvious answer is the morbid response that applies to the whole human body: natural decay. As time goes on, our bodies naturally begin to fail us. Our knees, our eyes, our hair, and of course our ears can all fall victim to time.

But there are preventative measures that can help you resist this slow collapse. When it comes to taking care of your ears, it helps to be proactive, not reactive.

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Is There A Cure For Presbycusis

Not hearing as well as you once did? Itcould be age-related hearing loss.

Like most types of sensorineural hearing loss, there is no cure. Fortunately, though, most cases of sensorineural hearing loss can be treated.

  • Hearing aids. Those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss may benefit from wearing hearing aids. After a thorough hearing evaluation, a hearing healthcare professional will recommend the type and style of hearing aid according to the severity of your hearing loss, lifestyle preferences and budget.
  • Cochlear implants, which can be given to older adults. If you are diagnosed with severe or profound hearing loss, you may benefit from using a cochlear implant. These medical devices are surgically implanted behind your ear to help detect sound and understand speech.
  • Assistive listening devices . Technology is available to amplify sound from your television, telephone and other personal electronic devices. ALDs can be used with or without hearing aids, depending on the type and severity of your hearing loss.

More: 102-year-old WWII veteran receives cochlear implant

How These Changes Affect Daily Life

Causes of hearing loss

As a result of these numerous eye and ear changes and diseases, older people typically have vision and hearing problems that include sensitivity to light and difficulty visualising distant objects or reading print.

Hearing problems include difficulty with perceiving and discriminating sounds , understanding speech , and processing auditory information.

These difficulties interfere with older adults everyday functioning and participation in activities. People with sensory loss may have difficulty performing independent activities of daily living such as bathing and shopping. This means theyre more at risk of problems with mental health and social interaction.

One of the most disabling effects of vision and hearing loss is decreased ability to communicate with others. People with severe vision loss have difficulty lip reading or perceiving non-verbal cues .

Those with hearing loss have communication difficulties including difficulty perceiving sounds or following a conversation. For people with loss of both senses, communication difficulties are much worse. They cant adequately receive a verbal message and frequently misunderstand conversation.

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Can You Prevent Hearing Loss That Is Age

At this specific time, there are not any methods for preventing age-related hearing loss that has been uncovered by scientists. Nevertheless, you can protect your ears from other forms of hearing loss, such as noise-induced hearing loss. Wearing protective items on your ears can go a long way to ensure that you do not end up suffering from hearing problems because of your exposure to different noises.

Where Can I Find Additional Information About Age

The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that provide information on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language.

Use the following keywords to help you find organizations that can answer questions and provide information on age-related hearing loss:

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Can You Hear This

When a decline in hearing does happen, the first thing to go is the ability to clearly hear high-pitched sounds such as womens and childrens voices, especially in situations where theres considerable background noise. You also may have trouble picking out consonant-heavy words: Consonants such as s, t, k, p and f are softer and higher pitched as is the th sound so they can be more difficult to distinguish than vowels, says Todd Ricketts, a professor of hearing and speech sciences at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. As a result, it may sound like people are mumbling. It also may be difficult to hear a high-pitched doorbell or the clothes dryer buzzing, he adds.

The inability to hear high-frequency sounds will then worsen as it works its way into the lower frequency, Ricketts says. Then you may have trouble understanding what people are saying even in quieter environments because youve lost clarity in your hearing. In more extreme cases, tonal quality gets worse and music may sound flatter, Ricketts adds. Hearing loss is a progressive disorder the prevalence and degree goes up over time, as people get older.

When To Contact A Medical Professional

Awender Audiology uncovers the true cause of hearing loss

Hearing loss should be checked as soon as possible. This helps rule out causes such as too much wax in the ear or side effects of medicines. Your provider should have you get a hearing test.

Contact your provider right away if you have a sudden change in your hearing or hearing loss with other symptoms, such as:

  • Headache

Hearing loss – age related Presbycusis

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Improve Your Hearing Naturally

Recent studies suggest that a nutritious diet reduces the risk of hearing loss, however there is no single nutrient of critical importance.. According to Dr. Sharon Curhan, MD, a physician at Brigham and Womens Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the findings are often inconsistent.

For example, in animal models, combinations of certain nutrients were protective against hearing loss however, studies in humans have produced conflicting results Vitamins and hearing health | Healthy Hearing

Pigments known as carotenoids produce the orange color found in many fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids such as beta-carotene also act as antioxidants, enable communication between cells, and act as a precursor to Vitamin A.

In 2015, a study of over 65,000 participants showed a link between higher intakes of two carotenoids and better hearing health. Specifically, women with greater levels of beta-carotene and beta-kryptoxanthin enjoyed a reduced risk of hearing challenges.

Effects Of Aging And Adult

  • 1Department of Experimental Psychology, Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre, University College London, London, UK
  • 2Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linnaeus Centre HEAD, Swedish Institute for Disability Research, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

Hearing loss is a common feature in human aging. It has been argued that dysfunctions in central processing are important contributing factors to hearing loss during older age. Aging also has well documented consequences for neural structure and function, but it is not clear how these effects interact with those that arise as a consequence of hearing loss. This paper reviews the effects of aging and adult-onset hearing loss in the structure and function of cortical auditory regions. The evidence reviewed suggests that aging and hearing loss result in atrophy of cortical auditory regions and stronger engagement of networks involved in the detection of salient events, adaptive control and re-allocation of attention. These cortical mechanisms are engaged during listening in effortful conditions in normal hearing individuals. Therefore, as a consequence of aging and hearing loss, all listening becomes effortful and cognitive load is constantly high, reducing the amount of available cognitive resources. This constant effortful listening and reduced cognitive spare capacity could be what accelerates cognitive decline in older adults with hearing loss.

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Hearing Loss: When Does It Begin

If we were to just put it simply, people will start to lose their hearing as they enter their 40s. The stats regarding hearing loss are quite astonishing. About one out of every 5 adults suffer from hearing loss and this number goes up as we go into the older demographics. With people above the age of 80, this number is 1 out of every 2. One other thing to mention is that although the burden of hearing loss falls disproportionately on older people, about half of the people with hearing loss are in the working-age class.

Does Hearing Loss Get Worse If Untreated

Age Related Hearing Loss Symptoms, Causes

Nearly 1 in 10 Americans know their hearing isnt as good as it used to be, but more than half of them have never gotten their hearing checked. The most obvious reason to get help early is that hearing problems can get worse if you ignore them. Sometimes damage can be permanent.

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How Can I Prevent Age

Experts dont know how to prevent age-related hearing loss. You can reduce your risk of losing hearing as you get older by protecting yourself from noise-induced hearing loss.

You can minimize noise-induced hearing loss by:

  • Avoiding loud environments, such as concerts or sports stadiums.
  • Managing health conditions like diabetes and hypertension .
  • Turning the volume down on the radio and TV.

Using hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs when you can’t avoid loud sounds.

Tea Tree Oils And Other Tips For Hearing Health At Home

There is little clinical research to support at-home natural remedies for hearing loss reversal. However, many individuals report finding success with natural remedies for hearing loss mitigation.

When it comes to essential oils, talk with your doctor before beginning use. The quality and purity of essential oils is not monitored so you should always use caution when choosing a quality brand.

Many consider tea tree oil to be an effective hearing loss treatment. There are numerous combinations of tea tree oil mixtures suggested for improved hearing health..

Natural healers also endorse the use of ginkgo biloba extract, which comes from the leaf of a tree. According to Healthline, supporters of this type of treatment suggest that taking 60 to 240 milligrams of ginkgo biloba per day can help with tinnitus and other noise associated with hearing loss.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Hearing Loss In Old Age

Because presbycusis occurs gradually, many people dont realize theyre having difficulty hearing. If youre older and having hearing problems, here are some symptoms that indicate you may have presbycusis:

  • Other people seem to be mumbling or slurring their speech and language. In other words, you find that you can hear but not understand.
  • Conversations are difficult to understand, especially when there is background noise
  • Certain sounds seem overly loud or annoying
  • You have difficulty hearing higher pitched sounds, such as the telephone ring or birds chirping
  • Mens voices are easier to understand than womens and children’s voices
  • You are experiencing a ringing, buzzing or hissing sound in one or both of your ears, also known as tinnitus, that won’t go away.

A Note From Cleveland Clinic

Causes Of Hearing Loss

Age-related hearing loss is a typical part of aging. Many people experience a combination of age-related and noise-induced hearing loss. You cant prevent age-related hearing loss. You can reduce your chances of experiencing noise-induced hearing loss by limiting prolonged exposure to loud noises. Treatment options may include assistive listening devices, hearing aids or implants. While hearing loss is normal as you get older, getting the right treatment can help you live a high quality of life.

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Tips: How To Talk With Someone With Hearing Loss

Here are some tips you can use when talking with someone who has a hearing problem:

  • In a group, include people with hearing loss in the conversation.
  • Find a quiet place to talk to help reduce background noise, especially in restaurants and at social gatherings.
  • Stand in good lighting and use facial expressions or gestures to give clues.
  • Face the person and speak clearly. Maintain eye contact.
  • Speak a little more loudly than normal, but dont shout. Try to speak slowly, but naturally.
  • Speak at a reasonable speed.
  • Do not hide your mouth, eat, or chew gum while speaking.
  • Repeat yourself if necessary, using different words.
  • Try to make sure only one person talks at a time.
  • Be patient. Stay positive and relaxed.
  • Ask how you can help.

What Are The Symptoms Of This Type Of Age

You may be quite rightly asking the question, what exactly are the signs and symptoms of this type of hearing loss. Well, when it comes to age-related loss of hearing, there are some signs that you need to look out for. They have been discussed below in more detail.

Before we move on to the symptoms, however, we have to understand that this type of hearing loss takes some time to fully develop. This is the main reason why a lot of people who suffer from this type of hearing loss are not able to tell that they have issues with hearing. The most common scenario is that you will have a noticeable decline in your ability to hear high-frequency sounds.

Classic symptoms

As mentioned above, probably the most common symptom of this type of hearing loss has to do with high-frequency sounds. This is why a lot of the people who suffer from age-related hearing loss will have trouble making sense of childrens and females voices.

Another very common complaint with this type of hearing loss is that people experience a lot of difficulties in making sense of sounds in noisy environments. This can be parties, meetings, all kinds of social gatherings, etc.

Another symptom to look out for is that you may start to miss out on a lot of daily sounds. Common things like the sounds of birds chirping, the sound of running water, etc if you have problems with hearing these sounds, then you may have age-related hearing loss.

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What Happens In Our Eyes As We Age

There are a range of changes in our eyes that occur as a result of age. For example, over time the whites of the eyes, or sclera, undergo changes due to exposure to ultraviolet light.

These changes include a yellowing or browning of the white of the eye due to fatty or cholesterol deposits in the conjunctiva the mucous membrane that covers the eye also related to ageing and exposure to ultraviolet light.

Over time, changes also occur in the conjunctiva, such as a thinning of the membrane. This often results in dry eye, a condition caused mainly by reduced production of tears and reduced mucous from the conjunctiva.

As we age, we often experience a decrease in the strength of our muscles. This is no different in the eye, and the muscles in our eyelids can become weaker over time. Reduced tone in the muscle that gives shape to our lens, as well as stiffening of the natural lens with age, causes presbyopia , necessitating the use of reading glasses.

Eye disorders that commonly occur in older adults include:

Among older Australians, cataract is the most common eye disease and cause of visual impairment , followed by age-related macular degeneration .

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