Age-Related Hearing Loss: What Is It, and Can it Be Prevented?


Presbycusis, otherwise known as age-related hearing loss, happens to many people as they get older, with the worse affected gender being men. In Australia, it is estimated that 35% of men aged 65-74 and 50% of men aged over 75 have significant hearing loss; about 18% of women aged 65-74 have the same problem, rising to 35% in women over 75.

Presbycusis doesn't happen suddenly; it starts slowly and, at first, affects the ability to hear high-pitched (higher frequency) sounds. As it worsens, it can lead to problems with hearing things in everyday life, such as phones and doorbells, misunderstanding or not hearing doctor's directions, not being able to hear smoke alarms etc. It can lead to a sense of isolation as it makes it more difficult for the sufferer to have a conversation with family and friends.

What causes presbycusis?

There are many causes of presbycusis, but the most common cause is the changes that happen in the inner ear as people age. However, it can also occur due to changes in the middle ear, or from more complex changes occurring along the nerve pathways from the ear to the brain. 

Can anything to done to prevent presbycusis?

Scientists at this time do not know how to stop presbycusis from occurring, However, a lot of the time it isn't only natural age-related hearing loss that causes older people problems with their hearing. Noise-induced hearing loss is often also a factor, and this can be controlled by protecting your ears from loud sounds in youth and middle-age. You may think that because you don't go to loud rock concerts or work in an environment where there is a lot of noise that you are not at risk, but consider other noises that can and do cause noise-induced hearing loss; these include listening to your music too loud (especially with headphones), the use of leaf blowers or lawn mowers, playing in a band or orchestra, being stuck in heavy traffic every day, etc. One-off exposures to extremely loud sounds, such as a gunshot or a clap of thunder from a nearby storm, can cause instantaneous damage to hearing.

To prevent noise-induced hearing loss, try to avoid loud noises as much as you can, and, if you must be around them, try and do it for as little time as possible. If you are around loud noises a lot, it's worth protecting your ears with some ear plugs.

What can help presbycusis?

There are many ways to help people suffering from presbycusis, and these include the use of hearing aids, assistive listening devices, such as telephone amplifiers, and through the teaching of speechreading (the use of visual cues to determine what is being spoken).


29 July 2016

Picture Of Health: A Blog About Medical Matters

Hey there. My name is Wade, and I have been a first aid volunteer for the past twenty years. Most weekends you will find me at football games, rodeos, agricultural shows or fun runs. I really love being able to help at these events and provide the necessary level of assistance. As a first responder, my medical role is very limited, but, many injured people do contact me to give thanks after they recover. This has further sparked my interest in health and medicine. I love watching medical shows and reading basic texts to gain a greater understanding of particular medical problems. I'm sure there are others like me who take an amateur interest in health and medical matters. I started this blog to share intriguing information I come across. I hope you find my topics fascinating and instructive. Thank you for dropping by.