The most common form of hearing loss caused by advanced age, known as presbycusis. In fact, according to an article published in the National Library of Medicine, “[Hearing loss] is estimated to affect approximately two-thirds of Americans aged 70 or older.” Below we review facts about seniors and hearing loss for Audiology Awareness Month.
What Causes Age-Induced Hearing Loss?
There are thought to be several contributing factors to age-induced hearing loss:
- A lifetime of noise exposure.
- Changes in blood flow to the inner ear.
- Changes in structure of the inner ear.
- Changes to the auditory nerve.
- Changes to how the brain processes sound.
What Are the Symptoms of Age-Induced Hearing Loss?
In most cases, age-induced hearing loss affects higher-frequency sounds first. This may present as:
- Trouble hearing the voices of women and children.
- Difficulty distinguishing between consonant sounds.
- Loss of speech clarity (being able to hear but not understand).
- Problems understanding speech in background noise.
What Are the Risk Factors for Age-Induced Hearing Loss?
Common risk factors for age-induced hearing loss include:
- Poor circulation.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Noise exposure.
- Ototoxic medications.
How Is Age-Induced Hearing Loss Diagnosed?
An audiologist at Premier Medical Group can diagnose age-induced hearing loss using standard hearing tests. Your audiologist may conduct a combination of some of the following tests:
- Pure-tone testing.
- Speech testing.
- Auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing.
- Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) testing.
How Is Age-Induced Hearing Loss Treated?
In most cases, age-induced hearing loss is treated with hearing aids. Hearing aids are medical devices worn over or in the ear that work by amplifying sounds to a level the wearer can detect. There are many styles of hearing aids on the market today, and most boast amazing features that can help you hear well in complex listening situations like dining out at The Noble South.
For cases of severe to profound age-induced hearing loss, cochlear implants may be recommended. These devices are surgically implanted and work by bypassing the damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Premier Medical Group today.