Age-Related Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can become prominent as you reach your senior years and can affect your quality of life if you allow hearing problems to remain unchecked by a health care professional.

You may begin to lose your sense of hearing in subtle ways over time, and any noticeable changes to your ability to hear clearly should be addressed with your doctor. There are several forms of hearing loss and identifying the form you suffer from can help you receive the treatment you need before the problem advances.

If you suffer from age-related hearing loss, it can negatively impact each area of your life. You will have trouble when having conversations or watching the television. Routine visits to your primary care physician can ensure you are catching your hearing problems early on. There are multiple treatment options available to aid you in combating the effects of age-related hearing loss.

Common Types of Hearing Loss

There are several types of hearing loss you can suffer from as you begin to age. While some hearing issues may occur prior to reaching your senior years, many can worsen over time. Each form of hearing loss has detectable symptoms you can experience early on. If you are suffering the warning signs from one of these forms of hearing loss, speak with your doctor about potential testing and treatment options. The most common types of hearing loss include:

  • Age-related hearing loss or presbycusis occurs gradually as an individual begins to age. Age-related hearing loss may be hereditary as it is often found as a running issue in families. Presbycusis can develop when changes to the auditory nerve or inner ear occur. This form of hearing loss can often progress into both ears and cause equal damage to each ear. Hearing loss associated with presbycusis can happen subtly, so you may not notice the adverse effects right away. Warning signs you can watch out for are increased sensitivity to loud noises and difficulty discerning what someone is saying in conversation.
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is a common type of hearing loss that occurs in seniors. If you experience ringing, buzzing or clicking in your ears, you may be experiencing the effects of tinnitus. It may not appear as a consistent issue, and you may experience tinnitus in one or both ears. If you have detected a noticeable buzzing in your hearing, speak with your doctor about this matter. Tinnitus often accompanies other hearing loss issues and can indicate other health matters such as high blood pressure or a side effect from one of your medications.
  • Sudden hearing loss occurs when you are experiencing sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss develops when there is damage to the auditory nerve or inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss can lead to sudden hearing loss and may be permanent. Sudden hearing loss can happen gradually over the course of two to three days or all at once, depending upon your personal case. If sudden hearing loss occurs, you will need to contact a doctor immediately as this is considered an emergency.

If you are experiencing symptoms of any forms of age-related hearing loss you should contact your doctor immediately to schedule a visit to test your hearing. You may be able to prevent more debilitating effects from occurring if you are able to diagnose the issue in its earliest stages.

Leading Causes of Age-Related Hearing Loss

You may be suffering from hearing loss for a variety of reasons or you may be able to attribute it to one common source. There are everyday causes for age-related hearing loss, such as loud noises or earwax buildup. In these cases, you can take preventative measures to ensure you are not experiencing hearing loss from these sources for an extended period. If you are experiencing hearing loss due to loud noises, you may want to turn down the volume on your radio or television to protect your ears from further damage. Investing in ear plugs may also help you deal with loud noises and prevent damaging hearing loss from developing. If you are experiencing hearing loss due to wax or fluid buildup in your ears, mineral oil or commercial ear drops can help alleviate these issues.

Age-related hearing loss may also be caused by the prescription medication you are taking for other health ailments. Ototoxic medications can cause permanent damage to the eardrums if you continue to take your medicine after experiencing hearing loss symptoms. If you have noticed changes in your hearing while on ototoxic medication for cancer or heart disease, speak with your doctor about pursuing alternative methods of treating your original ailment. This will ensure you are receiving the health care you need without putting yourself at risk of developing permanent hearing loss in the process.

Hearing Loss Treatment Methods

If you are experiencing the effects of age-related hearing loss, there are several treatment methods you can use to combat these effects. During conversations with others you may find it useful to have the person face you directly and speak slowly and articulately. This will allow you to remain engaged in the conversation without having to ask someone to repeat him or herself multiples times because you were unable to hear what was said originally. Remain patient with yourself during times when you are having trouble hearing someone as you can take steps in the moment to ensure you are able to conduct the conversation in a comfortable manner.

For those of you who are suffering through increased loss of hearing, purchasing a hearing aid may help you to regain a more consistent level of hearing in all areas of your life. There are numerous devices you can purchase to help with your sense of hearing, including:

  • Hearing aids.
  • Assisted listening devices.
  • Cochlear implants.
  • Alerting devices.

Depending upon the severity of your hearing loss, you can utilize one of these hearing aid options to increase your quality of life. Speak with your doctor about potential hearing aid options to determine what device will work best for you.

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