One of the most common conditions affecting elderly adults is hearing loss, known as presbycusis, and gradually occurs to nearly everyone. Statistics indicate that one-third of all Americans between the ages of 65 to 74 have some hearing loss, and almost half of seniors older than 75 have difficulty hearing.
Presbycusis typically affects both ears equally and many seniors are unaware of the fact that they have experienced hearing loss as it happens so gradually. One primary reason for elderly hearing loss is the cumulative effect that results from the deterioration of the cochlea or other parts of the inner ear or auditory nerves.
In some cases, health conditions more common among the elderly such as high blood pressure and diabetes can adversely affect hearing. Furthermore, certain medications including some kinds of chemotherapy drugs also cause hearing loss.
Another cause of hearing loss affecting individuals of any age is long-term exposure to loud noise. In this situation, the sensory hair cells in the ear that allow us to hear are damaged, and do no grow back. It is one of the most common occupational hazards and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that 10 million Americans suffer from irreversible hearing damage due to noise.
NIDCD also states that hearing problems are serious and it is important to have your hearing tested by a doctor if you are experiencing problems. Start with your primary care physician as he/she can refer you to a specialist. Your care may include seeing an otolaryngologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the ear, nose, throat, and neck. After consultation and testing by an otolaryngologist, you may be referred to an audiologist. They specialize in identifying and measuring the type and degree of hearing loss. Finally they, or a hearing aid specialist, may fit you for a hearing aid if it is determined you need one.
This post is for informational purposes and should not be used in place of the advice of your health care provider. For any health issues, please consult your doctor.
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