Understanding Age-Related Hearing Loss

As we age, our bodies change. For instance, our hair may thin, and our run may slow to a jog. In terms of our sense of hearing-it tends to become impaired. Our hearing impairs so slowly over the years we may not even notice, though others might! Age-related hearing loss does not mean that you do not hear anything (unless a profound loss).

It is more not hearing clearly. You may feel people are not speaking clearly anymore and believe some of them are mumbling. You may think actors on TV or stage do not articulate themselves the way they used to and find yourself trying to avoid noisy environments since you know you will not hear well.

This article explains why your hearing changes with age and what you can do about it.

Causes of Age-Related Hearing Loss

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis or sensorineural hearing loss) occurs in the inner ear (cochlear). The inner ear is the size of a garden pea and is responsible for hearing and balance. The inner ear has over 15,000 hair cells (stereocilia), which respond to sound waves entering the ear.

Over time, these tiny hair cells wear away, and this results in hearing loss. Hair cell damage results in reduced ability to hear soft and moderate sounds decreased ability to understand speech in a noisy environment and lesser ability to locate the direction of the sound.

Each letter of speech is pronounced at a different frequency and volume, so with age-related hearing loss and reducing hearing in soft and moderate high-frequency sounds, we miss sounds such as p, h, k, g, f, s, and th (consonants). This is why you may feel people are mumbling, you hear some of the words but not all.

Someone says book, you hear the oo but was it look, took, book, cook?

With age-related hearing loss, your brain is not always getting enough information to make sense of speech, it will try and fill in the gaps, but this can get tiring, especially in noisy situations where you may find yourself disengaging from the conversation.

Other side effects people may experience with age-related hearing loss with hair cell damage are tinnitus and reduced tolerance to loud sounds.

Treatment for Hearing Loss

Sensorineural age-related hearing loss can only be treated with hearing aids, A programmable digital hearing aid is set to a prescription which is calculated from your hearing test results. With age-related hearing loss, we are trying to make soft sounds audible again, moderate sounds moderately loud, and loud sounds loud but not uncomfortably loud.

Hearing aids use sophisticated technology to achieve this. If you look at soundhearing.org website, you can find information on the features the manufacturers use to achieve hearing clarity, even in complex, noisy environments.

Most new hearing aids are now Bluetooth compatible. This means your hearing aids can communicate and stream from your mobile phone. Your mobile phone can also work as a remote control allowing you to adjust your hearing aids.

With accessories, you can also stream sound directly from your TV/Stereo/PC to your hearing devices.

It should also be noted that hearing aids are excellent for near-field speech, which means the microphones will pick up a clear sound wave signal from around 2 meters. After 2 meters to receive a clear signal, a remote mic, table mic, loop system may be required.

Are You Experiencing Hearing Loss

If you feel your hearing is not as sharp as it used to be- maybe you ask people to repeat themselves often, or perhaps family members comment about the volume of your TV- then please have a hearing assessment. The problem could be as simple as your ears being blocked with wax, in which case soundhearing.org can remove this for you.

However, if it is age-related hearing loss, we can complete a full hearing assessment. Then you are welcome to have a demonstration of a hearing aid in the comfort of your own home. Please follow this link to book your hearing test in the Greater London area.