As you grow older, your body undergoes many changes – your metabolism slows down, strenuous activities tire you out faster, your skin becomes less elastic and your hair starts thinning. Gradual deterioration in hearing is another common physical change that ageing brings about. Age-related hearing loss is known as presbycusis. This is not a life-threatening condition, of course, but it can certainly impact your lifestyle – if it is left undiagnosed or untreated.
But why does your hearing deteriorate as you grow older? There are thousands of tiny hair cells inside your inner ear. These cells pick up sound waves, change them to nerve signals and send them to the brain – which is how you can hear sounds. The hair cells do not regenerate if they get damaged, and this leads to hearing loss. As you age, hair cells may get damaged due to changes in the inner ear or even due to continuous exposure to loud noises. Some of factors that contribute to presbycusis are:
- Genetic factors i.e. a family history of age-related hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noises, repetitively and over a long period of time
- Impairment in the nerves responsible for hearing
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, poor blood circulation etc.
Age-related hearing loss starts quite imperceptibly and slowly progresses as time passes. Typically it would begin with an inability to hear high frequency (high-pitched) sounds. You may find it difficult to understand what people are saying, especially if there is background noise. This problem may be more pronounced while speaking to someone on the phone. You may need to request people to repeat themselves and also turn up the volume of the TV or the radio. Tinnitus, or a ringing sound in the ears, is also another common symptom of age-related hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss usually affects both ears, though it may be more pronounced on one side. Onset of presbycusis is most commonly noticed around the age of 45-55 years. There is no cure for age-related hearing loss, nor is there a way of reversing the effects. There are, however, ways in which you can manage your hearing loss, so that the quality of your life is not compromised.
As you age, you need to care for your body even more. This means eating right, exercising moderately and going for regular physical examinations. Just like your body, your ears too need more care as you grow older. Taking a hearing test regularly is just a small step towards ensuring the health of your ears. You can take a free hearing test at Leightons Hearing Care. Our professionally trained audiologists will be able to advise you if you need hearing aids and will also help you select from our wide range of digital hearing aids. You can avail a free hearing aid demonstration before making your choice. We also provide a thirty-day full money back guarantee on all hearing aids, as well as warranties on the hearing aids and their accessories. So book an appointment online or call us on 0800 40 20 20 and speak to our hearing care expert.