People often want to know when they should start worrying about hearing loss.
Hearing loss can actually affect a person of any age. Some children are born deaf, and others lose their hearing early. Anyone who finds it challenging to hear should see their doctor immediately.
I personally recognize how important it is to pay attention to signs of hearing loss. As someone who was born in 1960 I’ve lately been experiencing diminishing vision and hearing.
I love sharing insights and strategies to help people to be live their best lives – in all stages of life.
And so I put together this quick guide on signs of hearing loss – with information on the ages when it usually starts to occur – and what to do about it.
First things first… The doctor will determine whether there is a simple problem they can fix, such as a buildup of wax in the ear that is interfering with normal hearing. However, the doctor might refer the person to an audiology clinic for further testing and a diagnosis. Once the patient has a diagnosis, the audiologist develops a treatment plan to address the hearing loss.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 30 million Americans today age 12 and older suffer from some hearing loss in both ears. Age remains the strongest predictor of hearing loss in those 20 years of age or older, and experts believe that 2.5 billion people worldwide will struggle with hearing loss in the next 25 years. Hearing loss typically comes on gradually, so most people don’t know they have an issue until the loss is advanced. What are common reasons for hearing loss and how can hearing be improved?
There are several reasons a person may lose their hearing as they get older. A loss of elasticity in the inner ear leads to hearing loss, as does damage to the tiny, hair-like structures in the ear. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, might lead to hearing loss, and a person may lose their hearing because of the medication they are taking.
Most people think hearing loss refers to the inability to hear sounds at low volumes. However, hearing loss may result from an inability to hear pitch or to pick out sounds when there is background noise. People with mild hearing loss can’t hear sounds below 20 decibels. As the hearing loss progresses, they won’t be able to hear sounds below 40 decibels, and this is referred to as moderate hearing loss. Severe hearing loss impacts men and women who cannot hear sounds below 55 decibels.
When the hearing loss reaches this stage, it impacts the person’s quality of life. Most human speech hovers around 65 decibels. With severe hearing loss, a person can’t take part in normal conversations. They become lonely and isolated. Profound deafness is when a person cannot hear sounds below 90 decibels.
Individuals with full hearing can pick up sounds from 20 to 20,000Hz. When they begin to lose their hearing, sounds in the upper part of this range are lost. By the time a person reaches their thirties, the highest frequencies they can hear tend to be around 16,000Hz. This declines to 12,000Hz around the time they turn 50 or a few years after.
If a person’s ability to hear frequencies below 7,000 or 8,000 Hz diminishes, they can barely hear. Human speech tends to be between 2,000 and 4,000 Hz for the most part. They are in danger of not being able to hear others when the hearing loss advances to this stage.
Signs of hearing loss vary by person. They come on gradually, so most people don’t realize they have a problem until the loss is significant. If a person notices noises sound muffled, they should see their doctor. The same holds when they struggle to hear other people when in a crowd or have to turn the radio or TV up to hear. Tinnitus and pain in the ears are other signs that it is time to see a doctor to have the ears checked.
An audiologist will diagnose the cause of the hearing loss and make treatment recommendations. For some people, hearing aids help combat the loss. Other people need to address medical conditions they have to improve their hearing. Early action is critical when it comes to hearing loss, so make an appointment to have the ears tested today.
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