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Seniors and Hearing Loss

January 22, 2016

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorder, almost 10 percent of adults between the ages of 55 and 64 suffer from some degree of hearing loss.  That number jumps to 35 percent for those who are ages 65 through 74 and doubles to 50 percent for ages 75 and older.  Hearing loss, after high blood pressure and arthritis, is the third most common chronic condition affecting senior health.  If you’re 55 and have difficulty hearing conversation in a noisy room, or you constantly ask others to repeat what they’ve said, it may be time for an audiogram

Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, gradually occurs in most of us we age and is a gradual loss of hearing that affects both ears equally.  We all have hair cells in our ears that are sensory cells that convert sound waves to sounds, and when they become damaged or die, hearing loss occurs.  Presbycusis is permanent as once these sensory cells are damaged or die, they are never replaced by new growth.  There are numerous causes of age-related hearing loss, but the most common are due to the changes in the inner ear as we age and changes from the brain to ear along the nerve pathways.  Medications for high blood pressure and diabetes as well as many other ailments, can also contribute to hearing loss. 

It is important to be aware of potentially damaging noise sources, such as power tools, loud music, firecrackers, leaf blowers, lawn blowers, motorcycles, and more, as a lifetime of exposure to them can cause hearing loss as seniors.  Other causes of hearing loss include medications (such as NSAIDS), viruses, bacteria, earwax buildup, tumors, stroke, punctured eardrum, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.  The American Family Physician journal states that an estimated 50 percent of age-related hearing loss is genetic and that men are more likely than women to develop hearing loss and are more likely to develop it an earlier age.  It is important to note that the onset of age–related hearing loss is influenced by noise exposure, but not the by the progression of hearing loss.  

Hearing loss is not only measured by decibels; it is a different experience for each person.  In a survey by the National Family Opinion panel, on-average, hearing loss was shown to cost a household up to $12,000 annually, depending on the degree of hearing loss.  Research has shown that senior citizens suffering from untreated hearing loss were also at risk for high levels of depression and anxiety, especially women.  There is also a strong link between hearing loss and the development of dementia.  Those suffering from mild hearing loss were found to be at risk twice as more to developing dementia, where individuals with moderate hearing loss were found three times at risk, and those with severe hearing loss were found to have five times the risk of developing dementia than those with normal hearing.  Hearing loss also can cause added frustration and stress, loss of intimacy and independence, and lack of self-confidence.  It should be noted that with the added use of hearing instruments, the effects of hearing loss were diminished by 50 percent.    

Though you cannot fully prevent hearing loss as you get older and become a senior citizen, you can take steps to minimize or overcome it. The cause and extent of your hearing loss will determine the course of your treatment. Contact Resonance Hearing Aids today to schedule an audiogram test to determine the extent of your hearing loss. Resonance Hearing Aids was formed out of a desire to empower individuals through better hearing.  We believe that communication is one of the keys to happiness and success in life and the ability to hear verbal communication, along with the subtleties of or world, should be attainable to anyone.