Undertreated & Undiagnosed: Age-Related Hearing Loss

Undertreated & Undiagnosed: Age-Related Hearing Loss

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Causes, Hearing Loss Prevention

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA
Latest posts by Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA (see all)

If you ask three people over the age of 65 about hearing loss, chances are at least one of the experiences it. Hearing loss affects one in every three people over the age of 65 and nearly half of the population age 75 and over. Also known as presbycusis, age-related hearing loss is a common condition that affects most Americans. Yet, it is often overlooked and undertreated. Why is this? 

What is age-related hearing loss, and how does it affect you?

While the most prevalent cause of age-related hearing loss is the deterioration of inner ear function, the middle ear can also be affected. A complicated network of neural networks connecting the ear and the brain can also be disrupted. This shows that hearing well involves the correct function of many moving parts. Aging can impact a variety of the many complex pieces that work together to maintain healthy hearing.

Aside from the impacts of time, other aging-related disorders might also contribute to hearing loss. For example, hearing loss can be exacerbated by high blood pressure or diabetes.

Preventing hearing loss

Age-related hearing loss, in particular, is a condition that occurs in the natural process of aging. As such, there is no way to prevent presbycusis altogether. However, there are things we can do to maintain our hearing health. 

No matter where you are in life, take the time today to develop good hearing habits. Take note of the daily volume levels you use every day on your devices. Is it possible that they are too loud? 

If you have to drown out other noise in your environment to listen to your earbuds, then the volume is too loud! Pay attention to other environments that could affect your hearing. For example, you can test your car’s audio levels by noting where you set the volume when you have another passenger in the car. The level at which easy dialogue is possible is a good indicator of the level to return to most of the time. When your favorite song comes on, turn it up loud, but make sure that the majority of your time spent in the enclosed environment of your vehicle isn’t hurting your delicate hearing. 

Hearing loss occurs gradually

Self-diagnosing age-related hearing loss is notoriously difficult. This is because it is a progressive process that affects both ears simultaneously. Humans are extraordinarily adaptable, and much of our bodies and systems are built to adapt to rapidly changing situations subconsciously. When minor differences arise due to age-related hearing loss, our perceptions and behaviors frequently compensate.

Of course, how age-related hearing loss manifests itself might make self-diagnosis difficult. Hearing loss is more like a noise distortion than a reduction in overall volume since high-frequency tones are the first to go.

How to tell if you have age-related hearing loss

There are a few readily apparent symptoms that can assist in determining whether or not age-related hearing loss is present. 

  • Conversational sounds may sound muffled as if the other person isn’t pronouncing words correctly or is speaking underwater. 
  • Even if the television’s volume is turned up, you’re having trouble hearing every word of dialogue. 
  • Arguments with friends and family over conversational misunderstandings or missing bits of information may have less to do with tempers and more to do with the extent of hearing loss. 
  • Fear of substantial social gatherings due to trouble communicating in large groups could indicate that you have age-related hearing loss.

If you identify with any of the above circumstances, the best action plan is to schedule a hearing test with us! If a hearing loss is present, we can provide you with treatment options and advise you on the best course of action moving forward.

Early diagnosis is critical

People with age-related hearing loss may suffer from the condition for an extended period before seeking a definitive diagnosis. This could lead to a more advanced and severe case of hearing loss. 

In many circumstances, prompt intervention reduces the effects of hearing loss and its consequences by reducing the period between the onset of hearing loss and the reintroduction of sound stimulation to the auditory system.

Even if you don’t think you’re experiencing any symptoms of hearing loss, it’s a good idea to schedule an annual hearing test today. Contact us to make an appointment!