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Age and your hearing health

When we're talking about age-related hearing loss, what we're actually talking about is experience. The more loud-sound experiences you've been exposed to, the more likely your hearing has taken a toll. The more you've experienced the world, the more chances you've had to damage the intricate anatomy of your ears. So, what's the next experience on the list? It's time to understand how age may be playing a role and what you can do to protect your hearing health in the future.
Age-related hearing loss

What is age-related hearing loss?

Age-related hearing loss comes from the Greek presbys “old” + akousis “hearing” or presbycusis. It’s a lot like irreversible balding: once the hair cells in your inner ear are damaged, they don’t grow back. That’s why hearing aids can make you feel young again. That is, your inner ear may be going bald, but no one has to know about it.

How does it happen?

It's no secret that our hearing takes a toll as we age. What's a bit more difficult to explain is the exact reason why, as age-related hearing is often accompanied by other kinds, such as exposure to loud noise and a reduction in the tiny hairs cells in our ears. Most commonly, changes to the inner ear are to blame for the gradual reduction in hearing capabilities. This can often be genetic. Changes to the middle ear or nerve pathways leading to the brain can also happen, but this is less common.
Test your hearing

Are you coping with hearing loss? 

66% of people over 65 are coping with hearing loss. If you answer yes to three or more of the following questions, it’s time to take action and nip these challenges in the bud:
  • When two or more people are talking at the same time, do you feel like you are on the outside looking in?
  • Do noisy backgrounds drive you bananas?
  • Do your friends say that you turn up the volume too loud?
  • Do you find yourself (willingly) asking others to repeat themselves?
  • Does the telephone seem like it’s nearly on mute?
Online hearing test
Learn more about signs of hearing loss
Hearing loss causes

Other causes of hearing loss

While age-related hearing loss can often be genetic and often isn't preventable, not everything is black and white. Other causes of hearing loss can include:

  • Loud noise:
    Long-term exposure to loud noise wears away at the inner workings of our ears. When the little hairs in our cochlea are bent and damaged, hearing loss is the result.
  • Ear infections:
    While most common in children, ear infections can wreak havoc on our hearing capabilities. Medication can be used to fight the infection and restore hearing.
  • Earwax buildup:
    While wax is meant to protect and maintain your hearing health, you can have too much of a good thing. Wax removal by a Hearing Care Professional can help.
  • Other medical issues:
    Everything in our bodies is connected. Your ear health can be affected by diabetes hypertension or obesity. 
Learn more about hearing loss causes

Weird science

Our ears are part of a much bigger system. That means there are plenty of other factors playing into your hearing health, including the types of medication you take. 
Did you know...
  • Taking 8-10 different types of OTC meds in a day can actually increase the risk of hearing loss.
  • When used more than twice a week, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxin, or acetaminophen can increase the risk of hearing loss.
  • Certain antibiotics, especially those used to treat kidney infections, loop diuretics used to treat high blood pressure or heart failure, such as furosemide or bumetanide, can also lead to hearing loss. The good news is that once you stop taking these meds, usually your hearing will return to normal.
  • Zebrafish may offer key insights into “cisplatin ototoxicity” (which means loss of hearing due to the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin). Zebrafish have hair cells in their lateral-line organ that are remarkably similar to those within the inner ear (or cochlea) of humans. In fish, these are optically accessible, permitting observation of cisplatin injury in live intact hair cells.
Why get help?

The trouble with non-treatment

Hearing is an essential part of our health and well-being. That's why treatment is so important. Not only can good hearing help physically protect us in a fast-paced, busy world, it can help prevent feelings of isolation and depression as well. As we age, hearing loss also means a reduction in brain stimulation, as sounds we should be hearing aren't getting through. The result can be as extreme as memory loss and even dementia.

If you or a loved one is dealing with hearing loss, there are solutions. Book an online consultation with your Hearing Care Professional and take back control today.
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