Loss of hearing ability with age

  • Feb 02 , 2017

Age-related hearing loss is also known as presbycusis is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most of us as we grow older. It is one of the most common conditions affecting older people. Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty in hearing. Age-related hearing loss most often occurs in both ears, affecting them equally. Because the loss is equal, one may not realise that they have lost some of their ability to hear.

What causes hearing loss?

Tiny hair cells inside our inner ear help us hear. They pick up sound waves and change them into the nerve signals that the brain interprets as sound. Hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells are damaged or dead. The hair cells do not regrow, so most hearing loss caused by hair cell damage is permanent. Most commonly, age-related hearing loss is caused by changes in the inner ear that occur as we grow older. Our genes and loud noise or headphones may play a large role.

Some causes can be as follows:

  • Changes in the structures of the inner ear.
  • Changes in blood flow to the ear.
  • Impairment in the nerves responsible for hearing.
  • Changes in the way of the brain processing speech and sound.
  • Damaged tiny hair in the ear which are responsible for transmitting sound to the brain.
  • Smoking.
  • Poor circulation.
  • Exposure to loud noise.
  • The family history of hair loss.
  • Diabetes.

Symptoms

Symptoms of age-related hearing loss typically begin with an inability to hear sounds properly. One may notice that they have difficulty hearing female or children’s voices. They may also have difficulty hearing background noises.

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in hearing people around you.
  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves.
  • Certain sounds seeming overly loud.
  • Problems hearing in noisy areas.
  • Problems telling apart certain sounds, such as "s" or "th".
  • More difficulty understanding people with higher-pitched voices.
  • Ringing in the ears.
  • Turning up the volume on the television or radio louder than normal.