As we age, our bodies undergo a variety of changes and hearing loss is one of the most common. Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, affects millions of people around the world, with nearly one in three adults over the age of 65 experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
In Australia, about 3.6 million people have some level of hearing loss, with more than three-quarters of these people aged 60 years or older
While hearing loss can be a natural part of the ageing process, it can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life.
Age-related hearing loss is gradual and usually starts at about 50 years of age and most often it affects the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, such as a phone ringing or a beeping microwave.
Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for age-related hearing loss is crucial for anyone who is concerned about their hearing or wants to support a loved one who may be experiencing this condition.
Age-related hearing loss can present itself in various ways, and its symptoms can vary from person to person.
Some common signs of age-related hearing loss include:
One of the primary causes of age-related hearing loss is damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, which are responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain. Over time, these hair cells become less efficient at their job, leading to a decline in hearing ability.
There are also various other changes in the inner ear that can cause the condition, which include:
Other issues that can contribute to age-related hearing loss can include conditions such as diabetes as well as poor circulation, smoking, and certain medications.
Hearing loss can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. It can affect their ability to communicate with others, leading to social isolation and feelings of loneliness.
Additionally, hearing loss can lead to safety concerns, such as not being able to hear warning signals or approaching vehicles. It can also have a negative impact on mental health, as it has been linked to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.
Research has shown. It can affect various aspects of one’s psychological well-being, such as mood, temperament, and life satisfaction. Studies indicate that individuals with hearing loss are 50 per cent more likely to experience depression. Furthermore, a recent investigation led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US revealed that hearing loss was linked to a higher risk of subjective cognitive decline.
The impact is exacerbated because the average person delays seeking treatment for their hearing loss for between seven and 10 years.
Hearing loss can also make it more difficult to be independent, as you rely on your partner or other family members to repeat information to you in social situations or speak on your behalf.
Overall, the effects of hearing loss can be far-reaching, making it essential to seek treatment and take steps to prevent further damage to the ears.
While age-related hearing loss is a natural part of the aging process, there are treatment options available to improve hearing ability and quality of life. One of the most common treatments for age-related hearing loss is hearing aids, which can amplify sound and help individuals better understand speech. Cochlear implants may also be an option for those with severe hearing loss.
Regular hearing tests and preventative measures, such as wearing ear protection in loud environments, can also help to prevent further hearing loss.
If you think you may have hearing loss, make an appointment with your GP, who can then recommend an audiologist. Once diagnosed, there are many treatment options you can weigh up.
Advances in technology mean that high-performing hearing aids are no longer as expensive as they once were.
In addition, the Australian Government Hearing Services Program offers eligible people free or subsidised hearing assessments and hearing aids.
You are eligible for the voucher scheme if you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident or live on Norfolk Island, are aged 21 years or older, and are:
Age-related hearing loss is a common condition that affects many people as they grow older. Although it is a natural part of the ageing process, it can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.
Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for age-related hearing loss is crucial for individuals, caregivers, and healthcare providers. Regular hearing tests and preventative measures such as wearing ear protection in loud environments can help prevent further hearing loss.
With proper care and treatment, individuals with age-related hearing loss can continue to lead fulfilling lives and communicate effectively with others.
Curious to learn the relationship between hearing health and healthy ageing? Join us on World Hearing Day, Friday, 3 March at 10am AEST, for a FREE online webinar where we chat with hearing experts to learn more about the hidden risks associated with untreated hearing loss. Click here to learn more.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.