It is common to face hearing loss as we grow older. The condition is known as presbycusis and commonly seen in adults as they age.
There are several causes for hearing loss, but one common cause is the change which can happen in inner ear with increased age. Most of the older people who experience the hearing loss have a combination of both age-related and noise induced hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss is caused by long term exposure to sounds that are either too loud or exposure is too long. This type of noise exposure can damage the sensory hair cells in the ear. Outer ear problems or middle ear problems very rarely contribute for the hearing loss in elderly people.
In older people conditions such as high blood pressure or Diabetes can contribute to hearing loss. Some chemotherapy drugs are toxic to the sensory cells in ears which can also cause hearing loss.
Some of the factors and causes which can contribute to age-related hearing loss are:
- History of Age-related hearing loss in the family.
- Repeated and long exposure to loud noises
- Smoking can also increase the risk of hearing loss in elderly
- Medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension can contribute
- Chemotherapy drugs which we use for cancer can also contribute for hearing loss.
- Change in the blood flow to the ear
- If there is any impairment of the nerves which are responsible for hearing.
- Some sounds seems to be extremely loud
- Difficulty hearing the difference between “S” and “th” sounds.
- Asking people to repeat the word or sentence more times
- Unable to understand the voice in noisy areas
- Unable to understand the conversation over the telephone.
Consulting an ENT specialist if you face any of the above symptoms is advisable.
Treatment and Prevention:
- Hearing AIDS which we use behind the ear can make sounds louder.
- Cochlear implants are small electronic devices surgically implanted in the inner ear that provide a sense of sound to people who are profoundly deaf or hard of hearing. You will need to get evaluated by the doctor to see if you will benefit from this treatment.
- Lip reading is a good skill that can be developed for the people with hearing problems.
- Telephone amplifiers or assistive devices are helpful in elderly people with hearing loss.
- Taking help from the family when you have hearing loss can give strength to face the situation.
Hearing loss should be evaluated as soon as possible by a specialist. Treating the cause is an important step in managing hearing loss.