Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is a very common condition that affects up to a third of people over 65, and up to half of people over the age of 75. It affects both ears equally, gets worse gradually over time, and affects high frequencies more than low frequencies. Hearing loss can be incredibly frustrating, as it makes conversation more difficult and poses an impediment to certain activities of daily living, such as socializing, talking on the phone, listening to music, or watching television.
Age-related hearing loss is the result of a variety of degenerative processes in the body. Cells and tissue structures in the inner ear become weakened, atrophied, less numerous, or stiffened with age; as a result, sensitivity to sound is decreased, making it more difficult to understand speech, hear music, or detect other sounds. For people with age-related hearing loss, high-frequency sounds, as well as the sounds of consonants in speech, are usually the most difficult to hear.
Although a certain amount of wear-and-tear on the structures of the inner ear is an inevitable part of the aging process, there are certain things that can exacerbate the condition. In order to help prevent or ameliorate age-related hearing loss, there are a number of steps that can be taken. Avoiding frequent exposure to loud noises is a good place to start, as noise-related hearing loss, although technically a separate condition from presbycusis, is a very common reason for hearing loss. Certain lifestyle factors, like smoking and eating a diet high in saturated fats, have also been shown to increase the incidence of hearing loss. Medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes can also exacerbate the risk. Certain medications, like aspirin, can also contribute to age-related hearing loss. Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, making sure underlying medical conditions are well controlled, avoiding excessive use of certain medications, and limiting exposure to loud noises are all good steps in preventing or slowing age-related hearing loss.
Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for hearing problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.