4 things to know about age-related hearing loss

Age-related hearing loss affects nearly half of all adults over age 75, but despite its prevalence, age-related hearing loss is often misunderstood or under-recognized by those who experience it. In fact, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) says denial is the biggest barrier to hearing aid use.

If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss, contact one of our doctoral-level audiologists today.

Fortunately, age-related hearing loss doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you have a skilled audiologist on your side who can help you understand your options. Get the facts about this common — and treatable — condition.

1. Your age-related hearing loss could have multiple causes.

The NIDCD says medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes may contribute to hearing loss. Certain medications may also play a role. Studies suggest that smoking may make a person nearly 70 percent more likely to have hearing loss as well.

But even if you don’t have any of these risk factors, age-related hearing loss is still possible. It is often caused by changes in the inner or middle ear or the nerve pathways that connect the ear to the brain.

2. Age-related hearing loss may not be preventable – but there are things you can do to protect your hearing.

The NIDCD says most older people have a mix of both age-related and noise-induced hearing loss. Because noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, you can protect the hearing you have with some simple solutions.

First, avoid exposure to loud sounds whenever you can. Keep earphones turned down and move away from loud machine and equipment or loud speakers at concerts and live performances. If it’s not possible to avoid noise, such as at work or when using a leaf blower, protect your ears with a hearing protection device such as earplugs or earmuffs. These will have a noise reduction rating (NRR) indicated on the package. These steps can reduce your risk of noise-induced hearing loss, allowing you to hear better throughout your life.

3. Age-related hearing loss affects much more than just your ears.

The ASHA says people with untreated hearing loss may be more likely to experience depression than people who wear hearing aids. They may become isolated from family and friends, which can magnify feelings of sadness or loneliness. This is of particular concern to older adults, because depression is already common among this age group.

Hearing loss can also pose real physical dangers, such as being unable to hear a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm, or not hearing a vehicle coming when you’re walking or biking in the street.

4. Age-related hearing loss can’t be cured, but treatments can help improve your quality of life.

While the damage to hearing structures cannot be repaired, there are effective ways to help a person with age-related hearing loss hear better. One of the most effective and convenient solutions is hearing aids. The right hearing aid should not only help you hear better, but fit your personal preferences and lifestyle so you can enjoy your daily activities with the best hearing possible.

Would you like to learn more about hearing aid options? Download our free e-book about modern hearing aids so you can make an informed decision about your hearing loss treatment options.