While anyone can experience hearing loss, older adults are at a higher risk. Data compiled from the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) found that “nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.”
Let’s examine a few of the reasons why aging can increase your risk of hearing loss as well as how to take proactive steps toward protecting your hearing health.
Causes of Age-related Hearing Loss
Age-related hearing loss is a type of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). This means that the hearing loss is due to damage to the inner ear or, less frequently, to the auditory nerve. This type of damage is permanent, as is any hearing loss that occurs because of it.
As you age, you become more likely to experience changes to both your inner ear and auditory nerve. Some of this can be due simply to the aging process itself. However, other times, it’s because of certain factors that you are more likely to be exposed to as you age, including:
- Repeated exposure to loud noise, whether at work or due to hobbies like hunting or riding motorcycles
- Taken certain medications that are ototoxic (damaging to the ear)
- Having medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes, which can interrupt blood flow to the inner ear
There is also some evidence to suggest that a family history of hearing loss may increase your risk of developing the condition as you get older as well.
Can You Prevent Hearing Loss?
While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent hearing loss, there are things you can do to protect your ears and reduce your risk as you age.
- Use hearing protection (like earplugs or custom earmolds) in loud environments
- Keep the volume at a reasonable level when you listen to music with headphones or earbuds
- Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise to lower your risk of diseases that impact blood flow
The Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
While age-related hearing loss is not reversible, treating it as early as possible benefits not only your hearing but so many other aspects of your life as well.
Hearing aids are the most common form of treatment for hearing loss. Using hearing aids lets you stay better connected to the world around you. It makes it easier to communicate in every situation, whether in an important work meeting or at dinner with good friends at Brother Sebastian’s Steakhouse & Winery.
Not only that but using hearing aids can reduce your risk of health problems associated with hearing loss, including anxiety and depression, balance issues, cognitive decline and dementia.
If you’re ready to take the first step towards improving your hearing health, call the experts at Ear Specialists of Omaha & Bellevue today and schedule an appointment.