Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions associated with the ageing process. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, over 30% of people above age 60, and over 50% of people above age 85, have a hearing loss.
There’s even a special term for it: Presbycusis, which is a Greek word that means “elder hearing.”
What is age-related hearing loss?
Age-related hearing loss changes people’s hearing as they age. Even if someone had good hearing early in their life, they might lose it as they age. It often starts by affecting only high-pitched sounds, like birds chirping or whistles. Sometimes, it progresses to affect both the high and low sounds. Or, it might stay only in the high sounds.
There are lots of different reasons why age-related hearing loss happens:
- Body changes from ageing
- Changes in blood supply
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Exposure to too many loud noises
- Side-effects of certain medicines
Tips for identifying age-related hearing loss
But how do you know if you, or someone you know, has an age-related hearing loss? Here are some quick questions that you can ask to check:
- Are certain high-pitched letters like “F,” “S,” or “K” hard to hear?
- Are male voices easy to understand, but female voices more difficult?
- In group conversation, does it seem like everybody is mumbling?
- Is it necessary to keep asking conversation partners to repeat themselves?
- Do you ask others to stop shouting, because you still feel sensitive to certain loud sounds?
- Do you turn up the volume on the TV or radio, but find that this helps only a little bit?
Hearing loss solutions
Often, people who develop a hearing loss start to use hearing aids because they make sounds louder. For many, hearing aids seem like they work fine. Sometimes though, the hearing aids seem to become less effective over time – or they don’t work at all even after trying different types of hearing aids.
Many people who try hearing aids, but think they don’t work well, then learn about cochlear implants. A cochlear implant doesn’t use a loudspeaker like a hearing aid, but instead stimulates the inner ear with electric pulses to help replicate hearing.
If you want to learn more about cochlear implants, talk with your doctor or visit the MED-EL website. To meet older adults who have (or are thinking about) receiving a cochlear implant check out MED-EL on Facebook or HearPeers, the social network for anybody interested in hearing and hearing implants, or watch real users of MED-EL cochlear implants share their stories.
Do you have another tip for identifying age-related hearing loss? Leave a comment below to let us know!