Hearing loss or also known as presbycusis is common on older adults. In fact, 1 out of 2 adults aged 65 years old and above have some degree of hearing loss. Although presbycusis is not a life-threatening condition, it can affect the quality of life of the person. Let us get to know more about this condition and the tips on how to communicate with persons who have age-related hearing loss.
Causes of Presbycusis
Age-related hearing affects an individual gradually over time. This is caused by:
- Alterations in the blood flow to the ear
- Changes in the inner ear’s structure
- Weakening or injury in the auditory nerves responsible for hearing
- Alterations in the processing of speech and sound in the brain
- Injury to the tiny hairs inside the ear responsible for transmitting sound waves to the brain
Age-related hearing loss can also be due to other issues, such as:
- Poor circulation
- Constant exposure to loud sounds
- Use of certain medications
- family history of hearing loss
Symptoms of Presbycusis
The first symptom of age-related hearing loss begins with the inability to hear high-pitched sounds. Some would experience difficulty hearing the voices of children and women and may also have a hard time hearing background noises. Here are the other symptoms people with age-related hearing loss experienced:
- hearing difficulty in noisy areas
- the sound may seem overly loud
- ringing in the ears
- having a hard time differentiating the “s” and the “th” sounds
- having difficulty understanding phone conversations
- turning up the volume louder than normal
- asking people to repeat what they have said
Prevention of Presbycusis
Although age-related hearing loss is not totally preventable, there are necessary precautions to keep it from worsening. Here are some the tips to prevent the condition from getting worse:
- wear ear protection in areas with loud sounds
- avoid recurring exposure to loud sounds
- control blood sugar levels
- avoid smoking
- seek prompt diagnosis and treatment from the doctor once there is an onset of symptoms the condition
Treatment for Presbycusis
The sad thing about this condition is that there is really no known cure. If one is already diagnosed with the condition, then that person will have it for life. However, as mentioned earlier, there are some ways to prevent the condition from worsening. Doctors may recommend the following
- hearing aids
- assistive devices like telephone amplifiers
- sign language or lip reading lessons for those who develop severe hearing loss
How to Cope with Presbycusis
If one of your family members is already experiencing the onset of age-related hearing loss, it is highly recommended to seek immediate professional advice from doctors such as otolaryngologist or audiologist. These doctors may help recommend the best way to handle the condition. As aforementioned, they may recommend hearing aids or assistive devices to help your affected family member hear better. Here are some ways to help them with their condition:
- when they can’t hear you, speak deeply not loudly. They will have a hard time hearing high-tone frequencies.
- Let other people know about the condition so that they will know how to approach the person.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Open your mouth widely as you speak and emphasize facial expressions.
- Ask the person if he or she understands what is being said.
- Place the person in a quiet place if you want to talk to them.
- Avoid playing loud sounds.
Age-related hearing loss or presbycusis is a permanent and progressive condition. This means that once a person has it, there is really nothing to do that can fix it, and worse, it gets severe as time passes by. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can help delay the severity of the condition. Plus, there are also some ways on how to cope up with the condition or minimize its impact on a person’s daily life.