Why You Shouldn't Ignore Age-Related Hearing Loss

Age-related hearing loss is often so gradual that people who are experiencing it sometimes don’t realize it’s occurring until the changes are profound. Even when you do acknowledge it, you may be tempted to blame it on issues you can’t control.

Our team at Petoskey Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists in Petoskey, Gaylord, and St. Ignace, Michigan offers an alternative to living with hearing loss. We may be able to reduce the effects of your hearing loss and perhaps even restore your hearing.

Understanding the nature of hearing loss

Not all hearing loss is related to aging. Certain diseases, genetic disorders, injuries, frequent ear infections, and even prolonged exposure to loud noise can affect your hearing at any age. Some medications, such as loop diuretics used to treat hypertension and congestive heart failure, may affect your hearing.

Nevertheless, age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is one of the most common complaints of older adults. In fact, approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.

However, declines in hearing often begin in your 30s and 40s and progress as you age. It typically affects both ears and starts with difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds, such as those used in speech, and advances until you may eventually find it challenging to identify what a sound is or where it’s coming from.

Note that, whatever your age, sudden deafness or complete hearing loss that occurs in an instant of over a couple of days should be considered an emergency that requires immediate medical attention since it could be related to a neurological disorder, head trauma, worsening infection, or other serious concern.

Health risks related to hearing loss

It’s easy to understand why hearing loss can affect your ability to participate in some of the things that make life emotionally rewarding.

Conversations with friends and family members or enjoying your favorite music often become more difficult or impossible as hearing declines. This often leads to social isolation and increased incidents of depression and anxiety as valued relationships and previously enjoyed pastimes are set aside.

Additionally, age-related hearing loss can:

Research published in 2019 shows that age-related hearing loss also correlates with an increased rate of brain atrophy and dementia in older adults. 

Even mild hearing loss may double your likelihood of developing dementia, while moderate hearing loss triples the risk. Individuals with severe hearing loss are five times more likely to develop dementia.

Many of these effects can be avoided with appropriate specialty care and treatment.

Treating hearing loss

At Petoskey ENT Specialists, effective care for the conditions we treat begins with a thorough evaluation. In the case of hearing loss, your assessment may include hearing tests to help determine your level and type of loss.

Treatment often depends on the underlying cause. Some issues, such as abnormalities of the eardrum, may respond to surgery. In some cases, removing a buildup of earwax may improve your hearing to normal levels. Our specialists can also provide guidelines for protecting your hearing as you age.

Most often, however, age-related hearing loss is related to damage affecting the inner ear, for which hearing aids offer the most effective remedy. Advances in technology and style have made hearing aids more popular and easier to use than ever.

Our Petoskey audiology team provides comprehensive services for all your hearing needs, including support in helping you select the best hearing aid style and model for your listening needs as well as your budget.

Don’t ignore hearing loss. Schedule an evaluation with us at Petoskey Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists today. We can help!

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