Presbycusis, age-related hearing loss, is a common type of hearing loss that occurs gradually with aging.
About 30% of U.S. seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer from some level of hearing loss, as do almost half of adults over the age of 75. Hearing loss is not only a minor inconvenience; it can point to more serious underlying health issues and can also present safety concerns. Those who have difficulty hearing and communicating normally may not respond to warning noises such as smoke alarms, may not hear the phone or doorbell, and may not fully understand directions or a doctor’s advice. Difficulty communicating can also be isolating, as it becomes much less enjoyable to socialize with friends and family.
Presbycusis almost always affects both ears equally, which can make it difficult to recognize until it has progressed to a more severe level. Because hearing loss is not reversible, it is important to take steps to prevent it before it becomes noticeable.
What causes presbycusis?
The most common cause of presbycusis is changes in the inner ear that naturally follow aging. It can also result from changes along nerve pathways between the brain and inner ear. Medications can also play a role (medications that cause hearing loss are called ototoxic medications).
Is presbycusis preventable?
As of now we don’t know how to prevent hearing loss strictly from aging, but often hearing loss that occurs as we age is a cumulative loss based on noise exposure. Fortunately, noise-induced hearing loss is very preventable!
Protect your hearing.
Some easy ways to protect your hearing both now and in the future are to avoid very loud noises whenever possible. This can include noisy environments such as fireworks shows, concerts, sporting events and activities such as lawnmowing.
Of course, it isn’t always possible (or desirable) to avoid these events altogether, so you can make it a habit of carrying ear protection when you plan to be in a noisy environment. Ear plugs are cheap and easily obtainable, and they are easy to carry with you in a pocket or purse to use whenever the need arises. If you are a musician or have some other regular need for protection from noise, you can get custom earplugs at a reasonable cost as well.
Another easy thing that everyone should do is get annual hearing screenings.
Hearing evaluations can be done by your physician or audiologist and can detect changes in hearing ability much sooner than you would ever notice it on your own. And the earlier it’s detected, the better: because there are exercises and devices that can help halt the progression of hearing loss so it doesn’t get any worse.
The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.
Diablo Hearing Services 2301 Camino Ramon, STE 106 San Ramon (925) 394-4646