As people age, their bodies gradually start to decline. They may not be as active as they once were, and range of motion may become a challenge. Their eyesight may need to be adjusted so they have to wear glasses. While much of this is to be expected, many older people are still unprepared for a potential loss of hearing. What is the cause of this issue and what can be done to help rectify it?
In technical terms, a gradual loss of hearing is known as presbycusis. It changes the composition of the inner ear as the years go by and, typically, will affect both ears equally. People who suffer from this condition may find it challenging to decipher high-pitched sounds and certain speech patterns. If there is background noise in the vicinity, it may be difficult to conduct a normal conversation. Sometimes, the condition is accompanied by tinnitus, a hissing or ringing sound.
This hearing loss may be due to a problem with the auditory nerve but may also be caused by damage to the sensory receptors in the inner ear. These receptors are like miniature hair cells, and they can be damaged by certain antibiotics or other medicines used to treat a variety of health conditions. On other occasions, presbycusis could be due to some problems of the middle ear. Here, small bones help to conduct and carry sound waves through to the eardrum. With advancing age, abnormalities may develop, which could lead to reduced function as well.
Unfortunately, many of these problems are impossible to reverse, and in this case, the natural hearing loss will be permanent. However, this doesn't mean that you cannot get help, and you may be a good candidate for a hearing aid. If you want to explore your options, talk with a trained audiologist. They will be able to measure the extent of the hearing loss and identify its primary cause. They will also be able to evaluate your hearing and then help select the best hearing aid for the situation.
Today's hearing aids are very sophisticated and unobtrusive, so you don't need to worry about what other people may think. Instead, take the first step, and call an audiologist so you can fully enter into any conversation, no matter the environment. Look for a local audiologist who is easy to get to, then schedule your appointment.