As we grow older, our bodies begin to change. Our hair takes on that distinct silver color, we get a few more smile lines on our face, and our hearing begins to worsen. This gradual loss of hearing is called Presbycusis. It happens in nearly all adults and is a natural part of life. Some adults with hearing loss can manage it with regular treatment or the use of a hearing aid.
Recognizing and understanding age-related hearing loss in yourself or a loved one can sometimes be a frustrating process. The team at Stockton Hearing & Speech Center understand these feelings. That’s why we’ve assembled this guide to help you understand this phenomenon, and determine whether you need to get your loved one help or not.
Presbycusis is a gradual process that occurs over years and decades. As a result, it’s often difficult for the individual experiencing this hearing loss to even recognize that their hearing is changing because it occurs so subtly. The most common and recognizable symptom of presbycusis include high-pitched sounds becoming indistinct or muffled. Often, this means that sounds of speech, like the “s” and “th” sounds, in particular, are unclear to the listener.
Additionally, individuals with presbycusis often struggle with distinguishing conversation in noisy environments. For instance, an individual with presbycusis might not be able to follow a discussion between friends at a table in a crowded restaurant. An estimated 30-40 percent of adults over the age of 65 have some level of presbycusis-related hearing loss.
The Causes Of Age-Related Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is the product of many factors and events. As such, it is difficult to separate age-related hearing loss from hearing loss related to long-term exposure to noise or damage to the ear. There are many causes of presbycusis. Most commonly, presbycusis is the cumulative result of normal aging. The loss of nerve hair cells in the Cochlea, which is the part of the ear that senses sound, is the result of daily exposure to noise during the course of your life.
Other causes or issues that worsen the hearing loss of presbycusis include health-related reasons, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Additionally, there are medications that are toxic to the sensory cells in your ears that can accelerate hearing loss. This includes chemotherapy drugs.
Finally, age-related hearing loss can be aggravated by abnormalities of the ear itself. These abnormalities might be the lessened sensitivity of the tympanic membrane, and the reduced functioning of the tiny bones in the ear that carry sound from the tympanic membrane to the inner ear. Typically, those who experience hearing loss at an older age are living with the results of both age-related and noise-induced hearing loss.
Fortunately, presbycusis does not mean that you or a loved one has to live with the reduced ability to perceive sound. Presbycusis can be treated and managed in a myriad of ways. The first step is to arrange for a diagnostic hearing evaluation to be conducted by an audiologist. The audiologist will test your hearing, and determine which ear has a greater degree of hearing loss and what frequencies the ear is failing to detect. With this information in hand, the audiologist can begin to create a treatment plan for you and determine whether you would benefit from the use of hearing aids.
If you or a loved one is experiencing age-related hearing loss, it’s time to schedule an appointment with Stockton’s Top Rated Local® hearing and speech center. Stockton Hearing & Speech Center has more than 40 years of experience in managing hearing loss and has the skills and technology to help you in your hearing rehabilitation process.