Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is a common problem that affects approximately one-third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 years of age. It may not be a life-threatening condition, but it can significantly affect one’s quality of life. It can also be caused by several factors that may or may not be avoidable. We’re going to take a look at some of these factors so you can have a better idea of your hearing health as you age.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Repeated exposure to loud noises may be the most common cause of age-related hearing loss, and it is the one that is the most avoidable. Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by exposure to an intense impulse sound such as an explosion. Still, you are more likely to experience hearing loss from repeated exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time. For example, someone who works on a construction site or a woodworking shop might spend hours around noisy machinery. The machines in use on the job might not seem that loud to them, but they still emit sounds at 80 to 100 decibels. Any sound louder than 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. For reference, a normal face-to-face conversation usually tops off at 70 decibels. Over time, exposure to these kinds of sounds will lead to some degree of hearing loss.
Other Causes of Age-Related Hearing Loss
Exposure to loud noises is not the only thing that can cause age-related hearing loss. Other factors that can contribute to hearing loss include high blood pressure and diabetes, which are more common in older adults. Certain medications such as chemotherapy drugs can also damage the ears’ sensory cells and lead to hearing loss. Again, these are merely problems exclusive to older adults, but they are more common in those over the age of 65. Hearing loss can also be a hereditary problem, so speak to a hearing specialist if hearing loss is something that tends to run in your family.
Most cases of age-related hearing loss are caused by a combination of different factors. Someone who has spent most of their adult life working in a noisy factory will almost certainly have some hearing loss, but it could be made worse by high blood pressure and other factors that are more common in older adults.
When to Speak to a Hearing Specialist
Age-related hearing loss tends to develop gradually, and many people are unaware that they have a hearing problem at all. Still, there are some signs to look for that could indicate some degree of hearing loss. These include having trouble following conversations, not being able to distinguish an “s” sound from a “th” sound, finding certain sounds to be uncomfortably loud, and ringing in your ears. Contact a hearing specialist if you’ve noticed any of these signs.
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Age-related hearing loss can significantly affect your quality of life. If you believe that you have any degree of hearing loss or you simply would like more information on the subject, contact Atkins Hearing Center today.