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Harry Burridge

Apprentice Audiologist

What is an age-related hearing loss?

Posted on 2022-03-01 09:40:00 in General

Age-related hearing losses are the most common type of hearing loss, making up 90-95% of all hearing loss. An age-related hearing loss is the gradual deterioration of one’s hearing as they get older. This is usually a slow process that can occur over many years before it is detected.

What are the first signs of an age-related hearing loss?

The first noticeable signs of an age-related hearing loss typically occur around the age of 55. As time goes on, an age-related hearing loss will only deteriorate, but it usually happens at a very slow rate. This process usually happens in both ears at the same time.

Why does hearing get worse with age?

Age-related hearing losses occur when a person’s hearing organ (known as the Cochlea) or the nerve connecting their cochlea to their brain (known as the Auditory Nerve) start to deteriorate. This deterioration accrues over the course of one’s lifetime in the form of wear and tear. These parts of the ear gradually perform their functions less and less efficiently because of more wear and tear accruing over time. This typically happens at varying rates in different people due to factors such as genetics, environmental factors, disease, and general health.

How common is an age-related hearing loss?

It is estimated that approximately 1 in 6 adults over the age of 55 may have an age-related hearing loss. As a person gets older, they become more likely to develop an age-related hearing loss. At the age of 70, it is estimated that 1 in 3 adults may experience an age-related hearing loss. As such, it is recommended to have your hearing screened once you suspect difficulties with your hearing. This is because, the sooner a hearing loss is detected, the sooner it can be managed. Learn more about how hearing tests work.

What difficulties do age-related hearing losses cause?

For many people with an age-related hearing loss, they feel like there is a lack of clarity in their hearing when going about their day-to-day lives. This can occur in different places for different people.

Common hearing complaints for those with age-related hearing loss.

To understand if you might be experiencing an age-related hearing loss, consider the following series of questions:

Do you find it more difficult to hear in the following places?

  • In excessive background noise?
  • When watching the television?
  • When on the telephone?
  • In a group conversation?
  • When speaking to loved ones?

The above situations are common complaints people with an age-related hearing loss experience. What can make it confusing for people is that they can manage in some situations better than others.

Why is my hearing fine in some situations but not in others?

When age-related hearing damage happens, it starts in the parts of the ear that affect high-pitched sounds.

What are common signs of age-related hearing loss?

These are common signs that you are experiencing an age-related hearing loss:

  • People sound like they are mumbling when they are talking
  • Certain sounds in speech become hard to distinguish (sounds like “s” and “th”
  • Men’s voices feel easier to hear than women’s voices
  • Background noise feels especially intrusive on conversation making it hard to make sense of what has been said.

It all comes back to the high-pitched sounds giving us most of the clarity when it comes to speech.

What can I do if I suspect I have an age-related hearing loss?

 If you have not had your hearing tested recently, then the first port of call would be to get your hearing tested. This can be done by contacting your GP for a referral to be made or by contacting your local Audiology practice. You can also do a free online hearing test.

What happens after a hearing test?

From there, your audiologist will be able to discuss the options available to you, coming up with an individual management plan specific to your needs. For most people with an age-related hearing loss, hearing aids are usually prescribed. Hearing aids allow us to amplify sounds that you would ordinarily find harder to hear. Now that all hearing aids are digital, an audiologist can adjust a hearing aid to your hearing test with a high level of precision. Learn more about how hearing aids work.

Do hearing aids improve hearing?

After wearing hearing aids for an extended period of time, most people find that the initial difficulties caused by their hearing loss are significantly more manageable. Although hearing aids are not a miracle cure for your hearing loss, they do rehabilitate your ears, allowing you to process sound more efficiently and hear better across a range of listening situations. Hearing aids come in a variety of styles suited to particular hearing needs. In addition, there are additional listening devices that allow hearing aids to perform even better in specific situations, such as talking on the phone, or watching television. Learn more about hearing accessories.

For those not interested in hearing aids, options such as sign language or lip-reading are also available. However, hearing aids tend to be the most readily available option for most patients.

Contact Chime for more advice and guidance on Hearing Tests and Hearing Aids. You can also request advice or take a free online hearing test.

What is an age-related hearing loss?