Posted October 23, 2017
Americans are living longer than ever before. Despite normal aches and pains, older adults report feeling more positive and satisfied about life than when they were younger. However, nearly 50 percent of older adults experience some degree of hearing loss. Although it’s not a life-threatening condition, here are three things to know about age-related hearing loss.
- Causes – Some people are at risk for hearing problems due to their family history. Others can experience hearing loss for several reasons, such as:
- Loud noises – Prolonged exposure to loud noises can damage the tiny hairs in the ears that transmit sounds to the brain.
- Physical changes – The ear structure and the brain’s ability to process words and sounds can be affected after a fall, accident, surgery or use of some prescription medications.
- Medical conditions – Diabetes, smoking, poor circulation and some illnesses can trigger hearing loss.
- Symptoms – There are many signs of hearing loss. Often people notice that they cannot hear high-pitched sounds, female and children’s voices, or background noises. Other symptoms can include:
- Frequent ringing in the ears.
- Difficulty hearing conversations, especially the s and th sounds in words, or in loud environments.
- Inability to hear when talking on the phone.
- Problems hearing the radio or TV at normal volume levels.
- Treatment – Take steps to preserve your hearing with these ideas:
- Hearing test – Schedule a hearing evaluation to establish a baseline of current hearing levels. This report can be used for comparison in the future to identify hearing changes.
- Hearing protection – In loud environments, wear custom ear molds or foam ear plugs. If using earbuds with digital devices, keep the volume level low.
- Assistive devices – A telephone or television amplifier can boost hearing.
- Hearing aids – Talk with your doctor about hearing aids. Affordable designs are available that are nearly invisible to others.
- Hearing benefits – Many employers are including hearing coverage in employee benefits packages. For example, Ameritas offers a SoundCare® benefit that features an allowance for a hearing exam, hearing aids, and hearing aid maintenance.