As we grow older our body goes through changes. Many people see major changes in their hearing. This is often caused by noise, disease, heredity, and aging itself. This is often difficult for an older person to accept as they struggle to have conversations with their family and friends. It becomes more difficult to talk with people on the telephone. It becomes more difficult to hear sirens and doorbells. This is a real safety risk.
Prevalence of Hearing Loss
It is estimated in the age group 65 to 74 that one in three people suffer from hearing loss. The number rises to nearly half of those aged 75 and above. Another issue sometimes evolves when some people do not want to admit they have a problem. When an older person suffers from age-related hearing loss it can also cause depression. Leaving hearing loss untreated may cause seniors to withdraw from others, particularly in group settings, because of the frustration and embarrassment their hearing loss causes them. Not being able to understand the conversation can be humiliating. Others may take the seniors’ non-interaction as confusion, being unresponsive, or uncooperative.
It is imperative for people, as they age, to have a yearly hearing test. Leaving hearing loss untreated may be a reason for it to get worse. There has been such an improvement in technology, regarding age-related hearing loss that most everyone can see an improvement via hearing aids, specific medication, special training, and surgery.
Presbycusis (hearing loss in older adults), according to different studies, indicate a greater risk of suffering from dementia than those older adults with normal hearing. Cognitive decline, including memory and concentration, decline more quickly in older adults when suffering from this loss. Cognitive decline can be devastating for seniors. This is why it is so important to have an annual hearing test.
Since many people don’t realize they have a problem, you should make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of these signs:
- You have difficulties having a conversation on the telephone
- You don’t understand when women and children are speaking to you
- You feel like people are mumbling to you
- Background noise causes you problems
- You turn your TV volume so loud that others complain
- You often ask others to repeat what they have said
- You find it difficult to understand a conversation when two or more people are involved
Understanding Hearing Loss
Hearing impairment happens in many ways. Some people suffer from a mild loss. Others have difficulties hearing high-pitched sounds often from voices of children and women. Another type, the most difficult, is the total loss of hearing. This can be a real safety risk.
Hearing impairment is generally characterized into two categories: Sensorineural and Conductive hearing loss. The first is caused by damage to the auditory nerve or the inner ear. This loss is usually permanent. The latter happens when sound waves are prevented from reaching the inner ear. This might happen as a result of earwax buildup, fluid, or an eardrum that has been punctured. Fortunately, this can usually be restored by medical treatment or surgery.
A sudden onset of sensorineural hearing loss, or sudden deafness, is a rapid loss of your hearing. It might happen suddenly or it might happen over a period of a few days. This should be considered a medical emergency. If this happens to you a visit to your doctor should be immediate. An untreated hearing loss can lead to very serious problems.
Presbycusis is different as it comes on gradually. It often runs in families. It often is a result of changes in the inner ear and auditory nerve. This usually results in causing difficulty for a person to deal with loud noises or to hear what other people are saying. Presbycusis usually happens in both ears and affects them equally. Since the loss is generally gradual a person may not realize there has been a loss in hearing.
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is also common in seniors. This results in sounds like hissing, buzzing, clicking, or roaring sounds coming and going. This might happen in one or both ears. This can be a sign of a loss of hearing in seniors. Tinnitus might also be a sign of other health problems including high blood pressure, a reaction to medications, or allergies.
Franklin Hearing Center
If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing and struggle with communication, contact us today. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help!