How to deal with age-related hearing loss?


September 26, 2016

Hearing and Speech 0

As we get older, several changes take place in the body and its functions. Hearing and vision are two essential aspects of life, which will get weakened this way, over time, making a huge negative impact on the quality of life and therefore it is highly important to take extra care of these organs.

In this article, we are going to discuss about the age-related hearing loss and valuable tips on dealing with it effectively.

What is age-related hearing loss? Why it occurs?

Also known as Presbycusis, this is a condition which affects around 1 in 3 people over the age of 65. It occurs due to changes in the structures of the inner ear, reduced blood flow to the ear, impairment of the nerves responsible for hearing, changes in the way that the brain processes speech and sound and damage to the tiny hairs in the ear that are responsible for transmitting sound to the brain. Furthermore, medical conditions such as Diabetes, heart conditions, smoking, chronic exposure to loud noises (occupation) and a positive family history are also known to be playing major roles in the predisposition of this condition.

How do we know, if someone among us is affected by hearing loss?

Most elderly people affected by Presbycusis, present with a gradual difficulty in hearing high-pitched sounds, which may progressively increase with time. These people will often find it hard to hear female or children’s voices (high-pitch), background sounds, telephone calls, ringing of door bells, fire alarms etc. Some individuals may also present with the inability of coping up low volume sounds which seem overly loud for them, difficulty in differentiating between “s” and “th” sounds, ringing sensation in the ear, raising volume on the television or radio louder than normal and wanting people to repeat what they say, are some symptoms to watch out.

Diagnosis and treatment of Hearing Loss:

When these signs and symptoms are noticed , you should visit an ENT Specialist (a doctor who specializeds in diseases  related to Ear, Nose and Throat). After taking a through history to identify causative factors and excluding other medical conditions, he will carry out a complete physical examination, look inside the ears using an Otoscope and refer you to an audiologist, if he finds it necessary to evaluate further.

Even though, there is no permanent cure for Presbycusis, hearing aids, assistive devices (telephone amplifiers) and supportive lessons in sign language or lip reading will be helpful based on the severity of the condition.

Severely affected individuals can use an electronic device known as Cochlear implant, attached to the ear by a small surgery, which will increase the tone of sounds in a level which is easily audible.

Being a condition, which will progressively get worsen over time, it is really necessary to take preventive measures in order to halt the further damage.

  • Avoid exposure to repetitive loud noises
  • Wear ear-protective plugs whenever needed
  • Keep the blood sugar in the normal levels
  • Re-check on drugs which might impair hearing (ototoxic drugs)
  • Effective treatment for medical conditions which may aggravate the hearing impairment

Identifying the unusual changes in hearing and seeking medical advice as early as possible will definitely help in minimizing the further damage to ears and will ultimately result in a better maintenance of the quality, even at an advanced age of life.

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