As we age, our auditory system becomes more and more susceptible to hearing loss. While most people think of hearing loss as an inevitable part of aging, leaving hearing loss untreated doesn’t have to be. Untreated hearing loss can limit you, holding you back from activities you once enjoyed and pulling you away from close relationships with friends and family. Hearing loss that is unaddressed also places a burden on other aspects of our overall health.
Unfortunately, when people experience age-related hearing loss, they often don’t look for solutions. Currently, fewer than 20% of people experiencing age-related hearing loss seek treatment. People also delay treating their hearing loss. On average, people wait seven years from the time they first notice indications of hearing loss to the time they medically address the issue. Procrastinating treatment or not seeking help for hearing loss can be detrimental to your hearing and your quality of life.
The great news is effective treatment of hearing loss is available today and can help us stay active, engaged and healthy. While aging may bring about hearing loss, you don’t have to succumb to it. Knowing what to watch for and taking action can help you maintain healthy hearing and enjoy life.
Age Related Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, will most often occur gradually. This is due in part to the delicacy of our inner ear. Our inner ear is home to the tiny hair cells that detect sound waves in the air. When hair cells are damaged -by loud noise for instance- they have no method of repairing or regenerating themselves and so damaged hair cells die, leaving permanent damage to our hearing. Throughout our life, we lose more and more of our functioning hair cells, eventually accruing into significant hearing loss.
Hearing damage also accelerates as we age because the components of our auditory system become more delicate they get older. About one in four people experience age related hearing loss at age 65. By age 75 that statistic jumps to more than one in two people. More than 80% of the population has some degree of age-related hearing loss by the time they reach 90. With hearing loss so prevalent as we age, it’s important to recognize the signs of hearing loss and take them seriously.
Signs of Age Related Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss becomes a concern to many people after age 50 and is usually first noticed as small changes to the way we hear. Often, voices will sound muffled and harder to understand. Finding that you often have to ask people to repeat themselves is usually an indication you may have hearing loss. You may also notice yourself turning up the volume on your stereo, radio or television. Pay attention to subtle cues too. Hearing loss can cause us to alter our behavior, avoiding events we once enjoyed like dinner parties, concerts and even phone calls with our loved ones. If you notice signs like these or any sudden changes in the way you hear, it is time to get your hearing checked.
Because the signs of age related hearing loss can emerge gradually in your life, it’s important to start your preventative hearing health care with annual hearing exams. Hearing exams can notice hearing issues early and track changes in the way you hear, year to year. If age related hearing loss is happening to you, an annual hearing exam is a great way to catch it early and treat it effectively.
Treating Hearing Loss
While hearing loss left untreated is linked to falling accidents, cognitive decline, depression and isolation, treating hearing loss can help offset those risks and preserve our quality of life as we age. Modern hearing aids are discreet and incredibly powerful. Many hearing aids can stream audio from smart phones and other devices directly into your ear canal for an enhanced hearing experience. Your audiologist can help you find a hearing solution that is the perfect match for your lifestyle, and program it specifically for your hearing needs.
When your looking for the right hearing specialist, it’s time to set up an appointment with Hearing Health Care Center. We specialize in providing personalized care, from complete audiological testing to fitting and programming top brand hearing aids. If age related hearing loss is something you’re ready to take seriously, set up an appointment with us today.