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The Age-Old Question Of Hearing Loss: The Why

by Dr. G. Balamurali |May 2, 2020 | Health care

Hearing Loss: One Impact Of Ageing.

The effects of aging occur in all parts of the body, but there are some areas where the impact is more prevalent. The throat, the nose, and the ear are three of them. This happens due to several reasons like:

  • Infections
  • Loud noises
  • Voice overuse
  • Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco consumption.

In this post, we focus only on how hearing loss can affect older adults.

Some Stats:

  • 33% of people have hearing loss in the age group of 60 to 70.
  • 80% of people have hearing loss after they cross 85 years of age.
  • Men are more prone to hearing loss than women.
  • Men are affected at a younger age than women.

While there are many conditions that cause and worsen hearing loss, the most common is age-related, and it is called presbycusis.

Why Does Hearing Loss Occur In Old People And Its Symptoms?

Presbycusis occurs gradually as it is a natural process that happens with age. It is one of the most common issues in older people and has a number of root causes:

  • Often there is a change in the middle ear or the inner ear or both.
  • It could also occur due to modifications in the nerves that link the ear to the brain.
  • Constant exposure to loud sounds and noises causes irreparable harm to the ability to hear.
  • Medical conditions like diabetes and blood pressure can lead to it.
  • A few medications taken for other health problems can contribute to it.

To assess if an older person is suffering from age-related hearing loss, look for these symptoms:

  • They listen to music, radio, or TV at a volume that is uncomfortable for others.
  • They feel they speak very quietly.
  • They have a tough time hearing on a phone call.
  • They often ask others to repeat what they said.
  • They find a conversation between two people or more difficult.
  • They can differentiate between background noise and normal voices.

It is recommended that any person above 50 years should get regular screening done to test for presbycusis.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Hearing Loss?

  • Conductive hearing loss:

In this, sound waves are unable to travel to the inner ear because of:

  • 1. bony growths
  • 2. deposits of wax
  • 3. fungal infections
  • 4. growths and tumors
  • 5. the presence of foreign bodies
  • 6. impairment or perforation of the eardrum
 
  • Sensorineural hearing loss:

In this, the auditory nerve or the inner ear structure is damaged. This kind of hearing loss is permanent because it can’t be reversed. It tends to happen due to the same reasons as conductive hearing loss. Autoimmune conditions and infections like meningitis may also cause this.

How Do You Treat Hearing Loss In Old People?

The specific treatment for hearing loss is dependent on the root cause and nature of the injury. Presbycusis, i.e., age-related hearing loss has no cure, but it can be managed with early identification. Continually monitoring the situation to keep a tab on any new developments are part of the long-term care required for hearing loss.

Although treatment is not possible, hearing loss in older adults can be prevented by taking the following actions early on:

  • Try to reduce any exposure to loud sounds or limit it.
  • In places where sound levels are distressing or uncomfortable, it is advised to wear ear protection.
  • Have a diet filled with nutritious foods and supplement them with vitamins.
  • Control any other medical conditions. One example is diabetes.

It is crucial to prevent hearing loss for as long as possible because it leads to balance problems in the elderly. Balance issues, dizziness, and vertigo happen because of disturbances in the inner ear, which can result in an increased probability of falling and injuring yourself.

It should be noted that balancing disorders can be symptoms of other health issues like:

  • strokes
  • ear infection
  • multiple sclerosis
  • high blood pressure
  • low sodium or high potassium levels.

In the last case, reducing salt intake and continuously drinking water does lessen the severity of the condition.

Prevention Is Best

Prevention is the best solution to hearing loss. Therefore, it is suggested to get tested at regular intervals, especially as age increases. If the test detects a problem, do consult an ENT at your earliest possible convenience. It will increase your chances of  managing the condition and offering you the best quality of life possible. Instead, consult a neuro specialist in Chennai to get to know about various medical measures and gadgets that can reduce the effect of hearing loss.

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Dr. G. Balamurali

Dr. G. Balamurali

Internationally trained Spinal Neurosurgeon with 24 years of surgical experience, from UK. Extensively trained in all niche aspects of spinal surgery as part of 3-year fellowship in the UK (Liverpool & Nottingham), USA (San Francisco & Chicago) and Switzerland (Zurich). Senior Spine and Neurosurgeon in India since 2011. Read more

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