Why Do Older People Lose Their Hearing?
Hearing loss is a common problem that many adults experience as they grow older. However, in many cases there doesn’t seem to be any direct cause fro hearing loss. Why are the elderly so much more susceptible to this condition regardless of behavior?
The thing is, it can be hard to distinguish the difference between age-related hearing loss and hearing loss due to long-term noise exposure.
- Noise-induced hearing loss can occur from exposure to sounds that are too loud or happen over log periods of time. These sounds can damage the sensory hair cells, which, ironically, allow us to hear in the first place. Once they are damaged, they are irreparable, and the ability to hear is diminished.
- Ringing ears — or tinnitus — is often one of the first signs of hearing loss among those who have permanently damaged their sensory hair cells. This symptom is also recognizable in younger people who have perhaps listened to music or watched television too loudly or for long periods of time. As a musical generation, the Baby Boomers may have also experienced premature hearing loss from frequenting rock concerts in the past.
- Abnormalities surrounding the outer and middle ear can cause distressed or limited hearing as well, though these conditions are rare.
- The majority of elderly individuals experience a combination of both age-related and noise-induced hearing loss.
However, high blood pressure and diabetes, which are more common in older people, can also encourage hearing loss. Some medication, such as some chemotherapy drugs, are toxic to sensory cells, also leading to hearing loss.
Hearing protection is very important to these individuals in order to keep their hears healthy and working. Loud music, firearms, snowmobiles, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers, and other loud machinery should be avoided by the elderly to prevent further damage. If they must be exposed to these sounds, earplugs or other proper measurements should be taken to prevent hearing loss.
Though technology can be blamed for many hearing loss cases, it is also a blessing for the hearing aid industry. Digital hearing aids have become more popular on the market over the past few years. Digital hearing aids are less noticeable, smaller and more comfortable, as well as more efficient.
Digital hearing aids aren’t mere amplifiers, but they are able to filter sounds and highlight sounds for different situations, to avoid further damage from the hearing aid blasting out the already damaged ear.