Hearing loss is a common part of getting older with about 1/3 of the people over the age of 65 experience age-induced hearing loss. This is thought to be caused by genes, chronic exposure to loud noises, and a number of other factors that are experienced over time. While there is no way to say exactly what caused the hearing loss or be able to reverse the loss of hearing, there are ways to help hear a little better, such as improving distinct sounds.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
A variety of signs and symptoms are associated with hearing loss including sounds and speech being muffled, having difficulty understanding works, especially in a crowd of people or with other background noise, having to ask people to talk louder or slower, turning up the volume of the radio or television on a continued basis, avoiding social settings, and withdrawing from conversations because you aren’t able to hear what is being said.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, hearing loss is simply a part of the aging process and there isn’t much your doctor can do by way of treatments. However, it is important to let your doctor know if your loss of hearing is becoming severe of interfering with your daily life in some way. If you find it more difficult to understand people during normal everyday conversations, are avoiding social situations because you can’t hear, or are having difficulty hearing people right next to you when there is background noise, it’s time to call your doctor. Your doctor may find other causes for the hearing loss aside from simply aging, such as built up earwax, a ruptured eardrum, or an ear infection.
Causes of Hearing Loss
While in older adults, hearing loss is most commonly caused by the natural aging process, younger adults and older adults alike may have hearing loss caused by something else. This includes damage to the inner ear such as prolonged loud noise exposure which can cause wear and tear on the nerve cells in the cochlea, a gradual buildup of wax in the ear canal, an ear infection, abnormal bone growths or tumors, or a ruptured eardrum. Other factors include occupational noises, heredity, recreational noises, some medications, some illnesses and aging. In many cases, the loss of your hearing is irreversible, though some treatments exist. The treatment will depend on the cause of the hearing loss, such as removing wax buildup, getting a hearing aid, or getting a cochlear implant.