The Link Between Hearing Loss and Aging

Senior touching her hearing aidHearing loss is among the most common chronic conditions that affect senior health, after arthritis and high blood pressure. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 8.5% of older adults between 55 and 64 years old are afflicted with hearing loss. This number increases by up to 25% for seniors aged between 65 and 74, and up to 50% for those who are 75 years old and older.

Common Causes of Hearing Loss in Seniors

As people grow older, Senior Helpers and other senior healthcare providers explain that they develop an increased risk for two kinds of hearing loss: tinnitus and presbycusis.

Presbycusis is characterized by a gradual hearing loss in both ears and happens when miniscule hairs inside the ears (required for the conversion of sound waves to sound) get injured or die. The other kind of hearing loss common in older adults is ringing in the ears or tinnitus, which could be either temporary or permanent.

The most common risk factors and causes of hearing loss in older adults include the following:

  • Stroke, tumors, high blood pressure, or allergies
  • Smoking
  • Increased exposure to loud sounds including music, firecrackers, or motorcycles
  • Punctured eardrums
  • Medications
  • Earwax buildup
  • Bacteria or viruses

Genetics might likewise play a significant role in the development of presbycusis. While environmental risk factors, such as smoking and loud sounds, make it hard to determine how genetics affects hearing loss, the Nation Institute on Aging reports that 50% of presbycusis cases are inherited.

Seeking Professional Help

Visit your doctor as soon as you notice that you’re having issues with your hearing. There could be a chance that your hearing loss could be a warning sign of an underlying health issue.

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Left untreated, hearing loss could lead to social and emotional issues, as the elderly can’t properly interact with their family and friends. In addition, hearing loss could result in deafness and even put your life at risk if you become incapable of hearing emergency warnings like smoke alarms or car horns.