Did you know that nearly half of adults over the age of 65 experience hearing loss to some degree? Age-related hearing loss, otherwise known as presbycusis, is both common and concerning because it slowly progresses with little notice. In fact, many people don’t often realize they have hearing problems until after their symptoms become serious and debilitating. And if left untreated, as many people do out of embarrassment, hearing loss can lead to a number of problems such as the inability to properly communicate with others, along with social isolation, depression, and even dementia. If you’re uncertain if you or a loved one are experiencing signs of hearing loss, take a look at the following list that outlines the 7 ways our hearing changes with age.
Inability To Hear High-Pitched Sounds
In most cases, age-related hearing loss impacts our ability to hear high-pitched sounds. High-frequency hearing loss will affect a person’s ability to hear children and female voices as well as the consonants such as s, h, and f. This can make it more difficult for a person to understand regular speech. Sounds can seem muted or slurred impacting the ability to communicate with others effectively.
Many people with age-related hearing loss (ARHL) do not realize that their hearing and communication abilities are declining until the symptoms are severe. Those with early signs often experience sensitivity to certain sounds where some sounds may appear too loud or even annoying. This is why frequent hearing check-ups are important.
Difficulty Hearing Background Noise
If you struggle to hear the TV, radio, telephone or have issues deciphering conversations when people are talking around you or behind you, it may be a symptom of ARHL. Depending on the environment and level of hearing loss, the symptoms can come and go. So it’s important to document any noticeable changes that you may be experiencing and relay them to your doctor.
Ringing In the Ears
Age-related hearing loss can also lead to tinnitus – a ringing, hissing, whistling or buzzing sound in the ears. Tinnitus is often linked to other health conditions that may need medical treatment, which is why it’s also important to see a doctor if you start to experience these symptoms suddenly.
Issues With Phone Conversations
Do you struggle to understand conversations over the phone? This is a common symptom of hearing loss and can have a significant impact on your quality of life if left untreated.
Difficulty Hearing In Noisy Areas
If you have trouble understanding conversations in a noisy room, you’re not alone. It can become difficulting to decipher what someone is saying when surrounded by other sounds. This is one of the first signs of age-related hearing loss that becomes more prominent as we age.
Loss of Normal Everyday Sounds
Some people also start to lose the ability to hear regular sounds, such as birds chirping and running water. If this starts to happen to you and you can no longer hear some of the everyday sounds you used to hear on a regular basis, it could be a sign that you have age-related hearing loss.
What Causes These Changes?
In most cases, ARHL is caused by changes in the inner ear structure as we get older. However, it can also be associated to other factors, such as genetics, long-term noise exposure, chronic diseases, use of certain medications, poor blood flow and circulation, smoking, and changes to the brain’s ability to process certain sounds.
How Can Hearing Loss Be Prevented?
Any age-related hearing loss symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately. When left untreated, ARHL has been linked to numerous physical, emotional and social health issues. This also includes cognitive and emotional disorders such as depression and even dementia. In most cases, presbycusis is not preventable, but there are steps you can take to prevent hearing loss from progressing further and reducing your quality of life. This includes:
- Avoiding exposure to loud noise
- Wearing protective equipment when using noisy equipment
- Engaging in a healthy lifestyle that maintains normal blood sugar levels and healthy circulation
- Quitting smoking
- Getting a hearing exam done regularly
How Can Age-Related Hearing Loss Be Treated?
There is currently no cure for ARHL but there are ways to improve your situation. These include wearing hearing aids, installing assistive technology like a telephone amplifier, or even cochlear implants. Your hearing practitioner can help you determine what treatment method is right for you. Don’t forget the preventative measures mentioned above.
If you suspect that you or your loved one might be experiencing hearing changes with age, it’s important to get a hearing test. Even if you’re unsure whether you are in fact losing your ability to hear, it’s important to get regular tests done. Changes to hearing occur gradually and can often be difficult to recognize until it’s too late. And when left untreated it can seriously begin to impact the quality of your life and even your health. Contact us at the Robillard Hearing Centres to Book an in-person hearing test at one of our 11 locations across Ottawa and Eastern Ontario today. Or take one of our online tests!