Unprotected ears can be harmed by prolonged exposure to loud noises, such as lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, and loud music concerts. There are numerous reasons for hearing loss, however; and it is not uncommon for senior citizens in particular to lose their sense of hearing.
Many of our residents at Aston Gardens retirement communities in Florida have faced this struggle. Fortunately, there are solutions and effective ways to deal with hearing loss.
Causes of Hearing Loss
The most common cause of hearing loss is advanced age, and researchers don’t yet understand why. In the age group 65 thru 74, one in three people have experienced hearing loss on some level. In the age group 75 and above, one of every two people have some noticeable hearing loss.
Other causes of hearing loss include:
- Noise. Loud, continuous noise wears down a person’s sense of hearing. Carpenters are exposed to many noises on the job, and 44% of all carpenters report loss of hearing. Any line of work that includes loud noises is a threat to hearing. Special earplugs are now used by many musicians. The earplugs allow them to hear the music while protecting the inner workings of the ears. Employers are required to protect workers’ hearing, according to guidelines provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Some medications. Over 200 medications have been found to impair hearing and/or balance, including some types of antibiotics, aspirin, chemotherapy drugs, and more. Read the fine print on the medications you take.
- Sudden hearing loss. About 4,000 people experience sudden hearing loss every year, and the cause is only found in 15% of the cases, at most. The rapid hearing loss usually occurs in one ear, and it happens over the course of a few hours or days. It involves hearing loss of 30 decibels or more. Sixty decibels is how loud a normal conversation is.
- Trauma. Punctured eardrums and skull fractures can put a person at a serious risk for loss of hearing.
- Infection and ear wax. Hearing can be reduced when ear canals are blocked by infection or ear wax.
- Some illnesses. When the ear’s blood supply is interfered with, the result can be loss of hearing. High blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes are among the illnesses that can cause hearing loss.
Impact Factors in Hearing Loss
Loss of hearing is a common malady that affects people of all ages. Hearing is a complex function that involves the ability of both ears to detect sounds along with the ability of the brain to interpret those sounds. There are varying degrees of negative impact that hearing loss can have on a person, determined by the following factors and more:
- The extent of the hearing loss.
- Whether the hearing loss is in one or both ears.
- The pattern of hearing loss across varying pitches.
- A person’s capability of recognizing speech sounds.
- The condition of the various parts of the auditory system, such as the inner ear, middle ear, brain, and neural pathways.
- The person’s history of exposures to loud noise and to drug-related or environmental toxins that harm the sense of hearing.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Hearing often fades slowly, and the process can occur without notice. Many people assume their hearing is fine, as long as they hear sounds. One of the earliest stages of hearing loss is that high-pitched sounds, such as the voices of children and females, become more difficult to decipher. The following are more symptoms of hearing loss:
- Difficulty understanding conversations on the phone.
- Difficulty hearing above noises in the background.
- If more than one person is speaking, difficulty following a conversation.
- A perception that others are mumbling or failing to speak clearly.
- Often misunderstanding what people say and giving inappropriate responses.
- Asking people to repeat themselves frequently.
- Others often complain that the television is too loud.
- Roaring, hissing, or ringing sounds in the ears; these are signs of tinnitus.
Treatment for Loss of Hearing
Treatment for hearing loss varies, depending on the cause of the condition. If infection is the cause, antibiotics may provide the cure. Surgery can sometimes reverse hearing loss in some instances, such as when hearing loss is caused by scar tissue, otosclerosis, or infection.
The majority of people who have suffered permanent hearing loss can benefit from the use of hearing aids. These tiny instruments are typically worn in or behind your ears, and they amplify sounds.
Among modern technologies for enhancing sound are:
- Personal listening systems that allow you to tune in to the sounds you want to hear and mute other sounds;
- Systems that allow you to hear the radio or television without blasting the volume; and
- Phone-amplifying devices that make phone conversations easier.
Hearing loss ranges from mild to profound. At all levels, it helps for a person to adjust to changes while seeking the best solutions. Many at Aston Gardens retirement communities in Florida have faced loss of hearing. It can help to realize that your dilemma is common among peers.