Age-related hearing loss is also known as presbycusis. It’s the gradual loss of hearing that might occur in both of your ears as you get older.
Many seniors have some degree of hearing loss—in the U.S., roughly 50% of people over 85, and around 33% of individuals over 65, are affected. But this type of hearing loss might occur earlier than you expect, as some people show signs of it by their 30s.
The harsh truth is you can’t reverse this type of hearing loss, and it might end up being a part of your body’s aging process. But there are some things you can do about it.
What should you know about age-related hearing loss so you can take better care of yourself? We’ve got you covered with some helpful information below.
Although symptoms might be different from one person to the next, when this hearing loss occurs, you may have trouble hearing and understanding people during conversations, and you may have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. There might also be tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and you might have trouble figuring out where sounds are coming from.
Also, you might find that, when listening to someone talking to you, they sound like they are mumbling, so it’s hard to make out their words. A man’s voice might be clearer because it’s deeper than a woman’s voice. And, if there is background noise, you may find it even harder to hear and understand what someone is saying. As you probably imagine, this can become extremely frustrating.
The thing to keep in mind is that this type of hearing loss doesn’t usually come on suddenly. Instead, it tends to occur little by little, worsening over time as you lose the ability to hear different pitches and volumes. So, you might not notice that you’re losing your hearing at first. The people around you, however, might notice that you can’t hear them as well, you’re talking louder than you used to, or you need to increase the volume on the TV more than you used to.
As the name implies, age-related hearing loss might simply be a result of changes that occur as your body ages. But this isn’t the only possible cause. For example, certain health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, might lead to this type of hearing loss, or you might inherit this problem if you have a family history of it.
Also, your lifestyle might play a role in whether or not you develop age-related hearing loss. For example, if you’re often in an environment with loud noise, it might increase the odds of losing your hearing. And taking certain medications or smoking might be other risk factors to consider.
Because you might not realize that you’re experiencing age-related hearing loss, especially in its early stages, it’s a good idea to have your ears examined and your hearing tested regularly. That way, your doctor can alert you to changes in your ability to hear, even if you aren’t yet aware of them.
In the event that you’re diagnosed with this condition, your doctor might be able to prescribe a hearing aid that will help you hear better. So, even though it isn’t reversible, you might be able to tackle this problem quite easily.
Leading a healthy lifestyle and taking steps to protect your hearing is wise, even while you’re young and you aren’t really thinking about hearing loss. By taking smart steps today, you might be able to prevent problems in the future.
For example, if you enjoy listening to music with earbuds, don’t set the volume too high. Avoid situations in which you’d be exposed to loud noise, especially for extended periods of time. And wear earplugs to help protect your ears when you can’t avoid loud sounds.
Remember, age-related hearing loss can’t be undone, but you might be able to use a hearing aid. And trips to an audiologist to have your hearing tested often can help you find out if you’re losing your hearing and need to do something about it..