Hearing Loss: A Common Issue Among Older Adults
Hearing loss that occurs gradually or increasingly with age is very common nowadays. It is becoming a major concern. Hearing loss, in general, is defined as conductive- involving the outer or middle ear, sensorineural- involving the inner ear, or mixed-a combination of the two.
The leading and most significant cause of adult hearing loss is because of changes in the inner ear and auditory nerves due to aging on the auditory system. Like our eyes, our ears also lose some of their sensitivity and sharpness. Many other factors include regular exposure to loud noises, chronic health conditions like diabetes, a family history of hearing loss or tinnitus, which causes persistent noises such as ringing of the ear or whistling.
Many symptoms confirm to older adults that hearing loss has started. Conversation becomes difficult and they are not able to understand speech, even if the sounds are loud enough. They turn the TV up and disturb the ones around them. They find it easier to hear voices of men than women’s and children’s voices. Certain sounds seem overly loud and disturbing. They have trouble responding to warnings, doorbells or alarms, or even hearing their doctor’s instructions. They start having balance issues and increasing times of falling or risk of falling.
Audiologists or hearing specialists usually use an audiogram, a test in which sounds are played to each ear separately through headphones. The patient is asked to respond if he or she is hearing the different sounds. If not, then this is a clear indication that there is some certain degree of hearing loss.
You can’t stop hearing loss when it strikes and it’s not healthy at all to ignore it. However, you and your doctor or audiology center can take eminent actions to improve what you hear. After checking your age, overall health and medical history, ability to handle certain medications or therapies, how long your condition is expected to last and your opinion, the best treatment method can be chosen. It can involve wearing hearing aids or assistive devices such as amplifiers or technology that transforms speech to text. Today’s quality hearing aids can automatically adjust to sound thousands of times per second, making speech comfortable and sounds natural. They are constantly evolving and can help preserve the existing levels of hearing if detected early.
Many elderlies do not want to admit they have trouble or difficulty hearing.
They sometimes report feelings of depression or isolation due to impaired communication. This affects their relationships with their family and friends and might create difficulties in workplace. They feel frustrated and embarrassed, especially when other people think they are being uncooperative because they don’t hear what is being said.
Seniors should not put up with hearing loss thinking it is part of getting older. Untreated hearing loss in adults has deteriorating effects on their health and psychology, reducing their quality of life. It can get worse with time and old people might develop dementia, Alzheimer and many other emotional and physical problems.
They should pay attention to the potentially damaging effects of being exposed to loud noises. There are steps they can take to prevent hearing loss. They should have regular hearing tests, especially when working in noisy environments. If they can’t decrease the noise or protect their ears, they must move away.
They ought to avoid or limit the time spent in loud places and the exposure to noise. Protecting their ears through ear protectors such as earphones, earplugs or headphones is a must. They should listen to music at moderate volumes. If they suffer from diabetes, heart diseases or circulatory problems, they should follow their doctor’s guidelines because the hair cells in the inner ear depend on good blood flow. If they take any medications linked to hearing loss, their doctor should prescribe alternative ones.
If you suspect hearing loss, don’t take it lightly. Seek an audiologist fast. Begin your journey to better hearing today. It is worth giving it the time needed to get the treatment you deserve. Don’t wait.