Hearing loss is often a part of the aging process. A decline might be due to genetic factors, the aging process itself, or perhaps long-term noise exposure.
Studies have shown that hearing loss declines slightly in adults between the ages of 20 and 60. After age 60, 39 percent of adults have trouble hearing speech clearly. Age-related hearing loss, occurs gradually, usually in both ears.
A decline in hearing also can develop from age-related changes in the inner ear or changes in the nerve pathways from the ear to the brain. Certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, thyroid problems and diabetes can speed up the decline. So too, medications such as chemotherapy drugs and some antibiotics.
Hearing Loss: Hello, Hello, Can You Hear Me?
When a decline in hearing does happen, the first thing you lose is the ability to clearly hear high-pitched sounds such as women’s and children’s voices. This is especially true if there is background noise.
You also may have trouble picking out consonant-heavy words. Consonants such as s, t, k, p and f are softer and higher pitched, as is the th sound so they can be more difficult to pick up. To you it sounds like mumbling.
The inability to hear high-frequency sounds gets worse as you get older. Eventually you even have a problem hearing lower frequency sounds. To you the spoken words will sound like mumbling.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association urges adults to get screened at least once every 10 years. More often if you are a senior citizen, for example, every three years. And, of course, get a baseline test when you are in the 40-50 years old-age range.
If you are diagnosed with hearing loss, technology provides some great solutions. Hearing aids today are more sensitive. Other technologies will help you listen to radio/TV and easily handle a telephone.