The connection between hearing loss and age is that as an individual gets older, his ability to hear might gradually decrease. This age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is a common condition that might be caused by factors such as heredity and repeated exposure to loud noises. The severity of age-related hearing loss varies with each individual.
To understand the relationship between hearing loss and age, it is probably best to first be aware of how human hearing works. Basically, the human ear can be split up into three general components: the outer, middle and inner ear. Sounds enter the ear, traversing through each of these areas. Inside the inner ear, there are tiny hairs that help translate the sounds into nerve signals, which the brain then processes. When hearing loss occurs, it is because of injury to the inner ear, such as when these tiny hairs are damaged or missing.
Though there is a connection between hearing loss and age, it does not suggest that age-related hearing loss occurs in every individual. For someone who does acquire the condition, heredity might play a role. This means that hearing loss runs in the family and the affected individual inherited the condition because of genes.
Loud noises are another connection between hearing loss and age. When an individual is exposed to lengthy or repeated loud noises, this can negatively impact the inner ear. For example, it might damage the tiny hairs which are important for hearing. As time goes on and the individual ages, the damage done can lead to hearing loss.
Since age-related hearing loss occurs gradually over time, it might be difficult for an individual to realize it's happening. There are many signs that indicate hearing loss. For example, to an individual with hearing loss, other people might sound as if they are mumbling. Also, background noise might make it hard to understand or hear others. In addition, the affected individual might have trouble distinguishing between certain sounds.
To diagnose hearing loss, a doctor might first perform a physical exam to inspect the ear. In addition, the affected individual might undergo tests such as those involving audiometers or tuning forks. There are treatment options for age-related hearing loss, but it is important to know the condition is progressive and permanent. To treat hearing loss due to inner ear damage, a doctor might suggest the individual use a hearing aid or cochlear implant.