Adult Hearing Loss Is More Common Than You Think
It’s surprising how often our hearing becomes less intense as we age. There could be several factors contributing to this. These include genes we inherited from parents, untreated ear infections when we were kids, and natural aging of our hearing system. But our adult hearing loss could also be down to living in an increasingly noisy world.
Did you know 30% of people over 65 have hearing loss, and this increases to 50% by the time they turn 75? You may count among them if you are in that age group, and feel cut off from conversations. Perhaps like them, you are beginning to admit you are hard of hearing too.
What Does Adult Hearing Loss Feel Like?
Having weakened hearing feels like there’s something partly blocking our ears. We don’t follow conversations readily especially over the phone. Noise in the background makes it even harder to hear other people mumbling. We stop watching television with the family because we can’t hear that clearly either.
And so we retreat, little by little into our own private world, where we don’t need to communicate with other people as often. Being hard of hearing can be a lonely phase of our lives. Thank heavens for hearing aids that offer us an escape from isolation, if we reach out and grasp the opportunity.
What Causes Us to Become Hard of Hearing?
An ancient Chinese general advised ‘know your enemy and you will win a thousand battles’. The first step to combating adult hearing loss is understanding what causes it. Then we can take our first steps towards hearing better again.
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the nerves mediating hearing become less sensitive. The root cause may be physical damage, infection, or we are simply getting on in years. The process is usually gradual, and irreversible. However, sudden onset signals an urgent need to visit a doctor.
- Conductive hearing loss occurs when something obstructs sound waves flowing down our ear canals. They can’t reach our inner ears properly where processing takes place, without becoming muddled. The root cause may be ear wax, fluid from an infection, or a punctured eardrum. Most respond well to medical attention.
More About Presbycusis Adult Hearing Loss
Presbycusis is not as complex as it sounds on the surface. The word is an amalgam of the Greek words for ‘old’ and ‘hearing’. Adult hearing loss comes on gradually as we grow older although it does not affect everybody.
Our scientists do not fully agree what causes the onset of age-related sensorineural hearing loss. However, we do know it runs in families, and may reflect changes to the inner ear, or the nerve running to the brain. Some affected people are ironically unable to tolerate loud sounds, while also having difficulty following conversations.
Sensorineural hearing loss, however caused is almost inevitably a permanent condition. A mild to moderate level means you struggle to hear conversations, but can follow when people speak louder and more clearly. A pair of decent hearing aids can have a similar effect without the added inconvenience.
More About the Causes of Gradual Hearing Loss
LOUD AMBIENT SOUNDS
Loud sounds are one of the leading causes of hearing loss in our noisy world. Common household appliances such as lawn mowers, leaf / snow blowers, stereo headphones, and auto entertainment loudspeakers can make the condition progressively worse.
However, we can largely prevent further deterioration by staying away from loud venues, and wearing ear protection is noisy environments regardless of what other people may say.
A physical problem – usually repairable - may affect how sound travels to our inner ears. Ear wax accumulation, and / or fluid from an ear infection can also give rise to a sense of something partly blocking our ears.
It’s also possible there’s eardrum damage – particularly with small children who love sticking things in their ears. These physical problems often respond well to medical treatment. We are not medical people. Please speak to your doctor.
GENERAL HEALTH CONDITIONS
Adult hearing loss, especially in older age can also be a symptom of another condition, for example diabetes and high blood pressure. The U.S. National Institute of Aging mentions certain drugs used for treating serious infections, cancers and heart disease. Please speak to a doctor about this if it concerns you.
How Digital Hearing Aids Relieve Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss - however caused - is almost inevitably a permanent condition. A mild to moderate level means you struggle to hear conversations, but can follow when people speak louder and more clearly.
A pair of decent hearing aids can have a similar effect without the added inconvenience. Digital hearing aids contain microprocessors that improve the ‘hearable quality’ of ambient sounds, by intercepting them and moderating them.
They can be expensive because of what some say is a ‘conspiracy of silence’. Blue Angels Hearing kicks this into touch, by supplying quality digital hearing aids direct from the factory to your front door.