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Understanding age-related hearing loss

Over time, our ears begin to change and are exposed to other environmental factors that can cause hearing loss. Learn more about age-related hearing loss, what causes it, and how you can prevent and manage the symptoms.
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Our ears as we age

Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, comes from the Greek words presbys, meaning “old”, and akousis, meaning “hearing”. It’s a lot like irreversible balding: once the hair cells in your inner ear are damaged, they don’t grow back.

Often occurring gradually as we get older, age-related hearing loss generally affects your ability to hear high-pitched frequencies and usually occurs in both ears. Since it occurs over time, those dealing with the condition may not notice it at first.

Book an appointment with one of our hearing centers to get your hearing tested for age related hearing loss.

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Damaged hair cells hearing loss
Causes

Getting to the root of the problem

It's no secret that our hearing takes a toll as we age. What's a bit more difficult to explain is the exact reason why, as age-related hearing is often accompanied by other causes, such as exposure to loud noise and a reduction in the tiny hairs cells in our ears.

Most commonly, changes to the inner ear are to blame for the gradual reduction in hearing capabilities. Changes to the middle ear or nerve pathways leading to the brain can also happen, but this is less common.

While age-related hearing loss can be genetic and often isn't preventable, not everything is black and white. Other causes of hearing loss can include:

  • Loud noise
    Sound waves vibrate the eardrum and tiny bones in the ears, which, in turn, causes hair cells in the inner ear to vibrate. Long-term exposure to loud sounds can eventually damage these hair cells and lead to hearing loss.
  • Ear infections
    While most common in children, ear infections can wreak havoc on our hearing capabilities. Medication can be used to fight the infection and restore hearing.
  • Earwax buildup
    While wax is meant to protect and maintain your hearing health, you can have too much of a good thing. Wax removal by a Hearing Care Professional can help.
  • Other medical issues
    Everything in our bodies is connected. Your ear health can be affected by health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or obesity.
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Signs and symptoms

Recognizing age-related hearing loss

66% of people over 65 are coping with hearing loss. If you answer yes to most of the following questions, it’s time to take action and nip these challenges in the bud.
  • When two or more people are talking at the same time, do you feel like you are on the outside looking in?
  • Do your friends or family say you turn up the volume too loud?
  • Does the telephone seem like it’s nearly on mute?
  • Do noisy backgrounds drive you bananas?
  • Do you find yourself (willingly) asking others to repeat themselves?
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Decoding your online hearing screening results

Age-related hearing loss typically shows more loss at high frequencies, affecting the ability to hear high-pitched sounds like bird chirps and children's voices. This hearing loss is often bilateral and symmetrical. Audiograms usually reveal a sloping pattern from high to low frequencies and may indicate reduced speech discrimination, especially in noise. These audiograms are crucial for determining the nature and extent of hearing loss to guide treatment.
age related hearing loss
Prevention

How to keep your hearing sharp

Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is a common condition that affects many older adults. But just because it's common, doesn't mean it's inevitable. In fact, there are several steps you can take to help protect your hearing as you age and ensure you can enjoy all the sounds of life for years to come.
  • Avoid loud noise
    Wearing earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones in loud environments, such as at concerts or while mowing the lawn, can help protect your hearing.
  • Put your health first
    Maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle can help prevent further damage to your ears. A healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding smoking and managing stress all play a role.
  • Check your hearing
    As we age, it’s important to keep an eye on our hearing health. Regular check-ups can help ensure you catch changes or issues early on.
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Treatment

The trouble with non-treatment

Hearing is an essential part of our health and well-being. That's why treatment is so important. Not only can healthy hearing help physically protect us in a fast-paced, busy world, it can prevent social isolation and depression as well. Hearing loss can also lead to a reduction in brain stimulation, as sounds we should be hearing aren't getting through. This can lead to memory loss and even dementia.

For these reasons, it’s essential to treat your hearing loss early. That could include exploring hearing aid options that suit your needs and even taking them for a screening drive with a complimentary demo. If you or a loved one is living with hearing loss, there are solutions. Book a complimentary online consultation with one of our Hearing Care Professionals and take back your hearing health today.

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Did you know?

Medication and hearing loss

Our ears are part of a much bigger system. That means there are plenty of other factors that could be playing into hearing health problems, including ototoxic medications. Taking 8 to10 of these pills per day can actually increase your risk of hearing loss.
Did you know?

Women and men hear differently

While a decline in hearing abilities is common for both men and women, biological sex can play a role in the extent. Studies have shown that women tend to hear higher frequencies better, but have worse low-frequency hearing thresholds than men as they age.

Age-related hearing loss: FAQ

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