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Why is Age-Related Hearing Loss Often Untreated?

an audiologist examining her patient's inner ear

With over 36 million Americans experiencing some form of hearing loss, this is the third most prominent chronic health condition. As such, it is crucial to seek help and advice. With one-third of Americans between the age of 65-74, as well as almost half of those over 75 experiencing hearing loss, it appears to correlate with getting older. 

What is the relationship between hearing loss and getting older? 

The most common cause of age-related hearing loss is due to the breakdown of hair cells located in the inner ear. While the sound reaches the inner ear, the breakdown of hair cells will prevent the signal of the sound from reaching the brain.

If you have noticed that over time you need to turn up the volume of the TV or have to stand closer to someone who's speaking, this is a very good example of gradual hearing loss. As this frequently occurs over an extended period of time at minute levels, you may be the last to know if you’re experiencing hearing loss. It’s important to pay attention to the signs of presbycusis and to listen to surrounding family and friends if they feel you have a hearing issue. 

Some signs of age-related hearing loss

You might experience several signs of age-related hearing loss. In addition to turning off the television or sitting closer to people to hear them, you need to be on the lookout for the following signs:

  • Having difficulty hearing in places with background noise.
  • Asking people to repeat themselves in person or over the telephone.
  • Missing softer sounds such as your alarm clock
  • Not hearing subtle sounds in your environment, such as somebody speaking outside

These are things that may occur but you may not know yourself. They are usually first noticed by a family member or a close friend. As age-related hearing loss can be gradual, it is important that if someone pointed out to you that you take this seriously.

The impact of hearing loss 

There is a range of consequences that can occur as a result of hearing loss. The impacts can be split into two distinct categories: your health and your social life.

When it comes to your physical health, in terms of struggling to hear, you may use more energy physically. The mental health aspect can also have a substantial impact on your life. For example, if you cannot hear clearly, you may use more energy straining to hear everything around you. Over time this can contribute to fatigue. 

In addition, socially speaking, your mental health can struggle because when you are unable to hear properly you lose meaningful conversations with people you care about. Gradually, what can occur over time is that if you are in social settings but you struggle to have a conversation with someone opposite you due to a wide variety of background noises, you choose to withdraw. This becomes a detrimental cycle where you begin to become socially and emotionally withdrawn and isolation can follow as a result.

The benefits of treating hearing loss

By addressing these issues as soon as possible, you will see a wide variety of benefits to your health and happiness:

  • A slower cognitive decline: Untreated hearing loss has been linked to an increased risk of age-related cognitive decline. 
  • Improved emotional well-being: Treating your hearing loss is fantastic for your sense of self. If you have any type of hearing loss, you may begin to feel disconnected from yourself. Improving your sense of well-being is a priority and treating your hearing loss will enhance your ability to connect with loved ones and friends, resulting in an improved quality of life.
  • Improved personal safety: If you do not have a balance in your hearing you can be at greater risk of external threats for example falling. Wearing hearing aids will result in better hearing and better-perceived perceptions of external background noise.

Is it time to treat hearing loss?

If you believe you are experiencing age-related hearing loss, you should book in for a hearing test with an audiologist. There is a wide variety of hearing aids that can suit your personal circumstances.

If you want to learn more, get in touch with Adirondack Audiology at 800-273-9536 and we will provide you with a hearing test to diagnose the extent of your hearing issues and find the best hearing aids for your personal needs so you can live the best quality of life.