Hearing may begin declining as early as age 40. By 65, one out of every three people has trouble hearing. This number increases to one out of every two individuals aged 75 and over. Hearing loss due to aging is a perfectly normal process and does not necessarily indicate declining health.
Here are some telltale signs of hearing loss:
- You feel like people mumble.
- You confuse words like “fog” and “frog.”
- You often ask people to repeat themselves because they are not speaking loud enough, especially people with higher pitched voices, like women and children.
- You have trouble following conversations in public places because of the surrounding noise.
- You always turn up the volume on your television as high as possible.
- You often miss phone calls or the alarm clock because you didn’t hear it ring.
- You feel like your hearing is not as good as it used to be.
Types of hearing loss and their consequences
Neurosensorial hearing loss: 90% of cases
Causes: Damage to the hair cells in the cochlea or to the auditory nerve, often due to aging or regular exposure to very loud sounds.
Neurosensorial hearing loss is irreversible but can often be helped with hearing aids.
Conductive hearing loss: 10% of cases
Causes: A foreign object, such as ear wax, blocking the ear canal, a perforated eardrum, malfunction of the ossicles, ear infection or fluid in the middle ear.
This type of hearing loss can often be resolved by medical intervention.
The consequences of hearing loss
Hearing loss has many effects, from emotional to physical:
- Lower self-esteem
- Decreased interest in work and less enjoyment of activities
- And more
Conversations with loved ones become challenging, work less interesting and activities less fun.
On the practical side, not hearing the stove timer, telephone, smoke alarm or traffic noise can affect our safety and sense of independence.
Reduced speech comprehension
Another impact of untreated hearing loss is the risk of sensory deprivation, which is when the lack of auditory stimulation leads to a reduced understanding of speech. Hearing loss is often irreversible, so delaying treatment makes it impossible to recover our full capacity for speech comprehension.
Although this is normal as we age, if you feel like you have a hearing loss, make an appointment with a hearing health professional to get your hearing checked. Remember, it can happen to anyone, even if you are in perfect health!