Age-related hearing loss often comes on slowly, so it can be easy to miss.
People often think that other people are just “mumbling,” so here are some warning signs to look for:
• Always turning up television or radio volume
• Problems hearing on the telephone
• Cupping hand to ear or leaning closer in conversation
Hearing Loss Can Hurt Emotionally
Hearing loss can be exhausting, frustrating and hard on relationships. It can lead to misunderstanding words or saying the wrong thing. People with hearing loss may give up struggling to listen, and their spouses, children, grandchildren, and friends may stop talking to them. Untreated hearing loss can cause isolation and depression. It can also hurt the emotional and physical health of the spouse. In some cases, it can even lead to divorce. Intimacy can also be affected.
In age-related hearing loss, hair cells in the inner ear that carry sound waves to the brain become less sensitive over time. Sounds then become distorted. Certain letters become hard to hear and hard to tell apart, such as S, T, and P. For example, the work “time” may sound like “dime.” High-pitched sounds, like a woman’s or child’s voice, are even harder to hear.
Hearing loss can be caused by:
• Exposure to noise
• Damage to the auditory nerve
• Ear wax build-up
• Changes in the blood supply to the ear because of heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes
• Head injuries or tumors
• Side effects from some medicines, including aspirin and some antibiotics
We Can Help
It’s important to get help. Start with a hearing test. Audiologists can provide this test as well as check for ear wax build-up, which can impede hearing. We can also help you determine your best options, including selecting hearing aids if necessary. More than 90% of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify the kinds of sounds that are hardest for you to hear. Thus, when you start wearing hearing aids, you may notice that sounds will be different. Be patient while your brain gets readjusted with hearing the sounds you have been missing.