Hearing Loss - Adult

This is hearing loss that continues to get worse as a person ages. It is also known as presbycusis.

This is hearing loss that continues to get worse as a person ages. It is also known as presbycusis.

Age-related hearing loss is the slow loss of hearing that gets worse as we age. It is also known as presbycusis.

  • We hear when the vibrations from sound waves are transmitted along a series of tiny structures in our inner ear. These structures transmit sound information to the brain.
  • Different sounds produce different vibrations. This explains the differences in the sounds that we hear.
  • When these structures become damaged or destroyed, the normal hearing process is disrupted. This results in a decrease in a person's hearing.

The structures inside the ear can be damaged by aging, so some hearing loss is a normal part of aging. However, some causes of hearing loss have nothing to do with growing old. These include:

  • A buildup of wax in the ear
  • Frequent ear infections (causing damage to the inner ear)
  • A hole in the air drum (ruptured ear drum)
  • Abnormal bone growths or tumors in the ear
  • Exposure to loud noises on a regular basis, such as repeatedly listening to loud music on iPods

You have an increased risk for age-related hearing loss if you have:

  • A family history (age-related hearing loss tends to run in families)
  • Certain medical conditions and exposure to certain medicines
  • A history of smoking

You may have some hearing loss if:

  • Sounds appear muffled
  • You have trouble picking up what people are saying, especially if there are other noises in the background
  • You often need people to repeat what they are saying
  • You need to have the volume on the TV or radio turned up louder than others

People with hearing loss also tend to avoid social gatherings and participation in active discussions. Often hearing loss can be so gradual that a person is not aware of it. Family members and others may be the first to notice that you are asking that they repeat things they say.

Contact your healthcare provider if you or your family are concerned about your hearing. He or she will do a physical examination to determine if there is a medical cause for your hearing loss.

  • One or more hearing tests will likely be done.
  • If there is a lot of wax in your ears, cleaning out the wax may be enough to improve your hearing.

Although age-related hearing loss is usually permanent, there are things that can improve your confidence and quality of life. These include:

  • Hearing aids
  • Telephone amplifiers and other assistive devices
  • Use of lip reading and sign language, if hearing loss is severe

Bone-anchored hearing aids may also be an option if your hearing loss is severe. It is important to know that it will not make your hearing normal.

If you believe you have hearing loss, contact your healthcare provider.

  • Bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations).
  • Bring a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
  • Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.
  • If your healthcare provider wants you to take a medication, ask if an over-the-counter product is right for you.
  • If your healthcare provider prescribes a medication for you, ask for a generic version. If your doctor thinks that a generic version is not right for you, ask for a medication on the lowest available tier of your Prescription Drug List (PDL).

Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider:

  • Should I see a hearing specialist (audiologist)?
  • Is my hearing loss age related, or due to something else?
  • Are you recommending any tests? Will the test results change my treatment plan? If not, why do I need the test?
  • What treatment options do I have? What are the pros and cons of each?
  • When might I start to see improvement in my symptoms?
  • Can my hearing problem be treated with surgery? Are there other less invasive options?
  • What are my follow-up plans? What symptoms should I report before my next appointment?

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Loss of Hearing
Hearing Loss - Adult
Hearing Loss
Ear Infection
Age Related Hearing Loss

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