Tips on identifying hearing loss Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions associated with aging here in the United States. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, over 30 percent of individuals over 60 and over 50 percent of those over 85 have some hearing loss. That’s why it’s important for family members, friends, and care providers to be aware of the signs of hearing loss and help those under their care get the treatment and aid they need.

Age-related hearing loss has its own specific name: Presbycusis, a Greek word that means “elder hearing.” Presbycusis changes people’s hearing as they age — even if someone had good hearing early in their life, he or she might find it diminishing as they age. It often starts with only high-pitched sounds, such as birds chirping or whistles. Sometimes it progresses to affect both the high and low sounds.

There are different reasons why age-related hearing loss occurs:

  • Physical effects of aging
  • Changes in circulation and blood flow
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Over-exposure to loud noises
  • Smoking
  • Side-effects of certain medicines

Tips on identifying hearing loss

How can you determine if you or someone you know has a hearing loss? Here are some tips on what to look for (or, more accurately, listen for) to check:

  • High-pitched letters like “F,” “S,” or “K” are harder to hear
  • Male voices are easy to understand, but female voices more difficult
  • Everyone seems to be mumbling in group conversations
  • You keep asking people to repeat themselves
  • You ask others to stop shouting, because you still feel sensitive to certain loud sounds
  • You turn up the volume on the TV or radio, but find it only helps a little bit

In many adults, signs of hearing loss can also include:

  • Inattentiveness
  • Buzzing or ringing in their ears
  • Failure to respond to spoken words
  • Persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise (regular and constant listening to electronics at high volumes)
  • Muffled hearing
  • Constant frustration hearing speech and other sounds
  • Avoids conversation
  • Social isolation
  • Depression

If you’d like to learn more about hearing loss, including age-related hearing loss, contact your family physician.

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