Hearing loss in older age has other repercussions beyond the sensory loss and beyond the individual. Those close to you start to get irritated with you. Some might stop talking to you altogether. As frustrating as it is for you it is also frustrating for friends and family members. Hearing is how we primarily communicate; talking on the phone, listening to the television or radio and how we communicate face-to-face. Loss of hearing primarily creates difficulties in communicating. It’s difficult to accept change, and many people will blame anything and everything before admitting that their hearing isn’t what it used to be. But one thing is certain: You need help.
Causes of late onset deafness are usually linked to diminished functionality in the middle ear. There are two primary causes for this degeneration. There is an erosion of the microscopic blood vessels in the middle ear that causes hearing loss but does not disproportionately affect the individual’s ability to hear and understand speech.
The second degeneration is caused by loss of the ear’s tiny “hair” cells – known clinically as presbycusis. Presbycusis can have a more serious affect on the ability to understand speech. Vital components of speech sounds, usually the higher pitched consonants – which define speech – become indistinguishable. It is for this reason that many people first have trouble in understanding women and children – and since men are more likely than women to have hearing impairment – this can and does create psychological friction. The lower pitched male voices are often easier to hear and comprehend. As hearing deteriorates the ability to understand speech becomes more severely affected.
Some people may have a genetic predisposition, while diet and lifestyle may also play a role. For example exposure to noise or pressure – as in diving and flying – in earlier life will hasten the onset of noticeable hearing loss. Other factors include osteoporosis, and some diuretic medications directly contribute to diminished hearing.
Vanity plays a major barrier to acknowledging our hearing is not what it used to be and asking for help. The alternatives are not sexy. Hearing aids have improved, but still are not a badge of youth. Successful aging is understanding the limitations and overcoming them. Aging is a privilege, showing that we have surmounted the barriers that life throws at us. Modern hearing aids have come a long way and new technology with invisible in the canal aids can take care of any vanity issues.
If you have any questions about hearing loss or hearing aids contact Hidden Hearing.