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Senior Citizen Hearing Loss

Updated on November 13, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

I am a former RN of 22 years who enjoys writing about various medical topics. I have lived SLE and associated diseases for over 45 years.

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Hearing Loss in Senior Citizens

Hearing loss (presbycusis) tends to happen gradually as we age. Approximately one-third of people between 65-75 have some degree of hearing loss and for people over the age of 75 the percentage increases to one of every two people. Chronic exposure to loud noises contributes to hearing loss.

The Ear

There are three primary parts of the ear: the outer, middle and inner ear. Each part plays a unique role in hearing by converting sound waves that cause vibrations on the eardrum into signals that go into the brain.

Source

Types of Hearing Loss

The symptoms of hearing loss depend on the type and severity of the loss. It will be one of 3 types:

  1. Conductive - involving the middle of outer ear
  2. Sensorineural - involving the inner ear
  3. Mixed - a combination of two types listed above

While you can’t reverse most types of hearing loss, you can see a hearing specialist to take steps to improve your hearing.

Signs and Symptoms to Hearing Loss

There are several signs and symptoms of hearing loss, including:

  • Muffled speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding word, particularly in crowds
  • Difficulty in hearing consonants
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the TV or radio
  • Frequently asking others to speak up or speak more slowly
  • Withdrawal from group conversations
  • Actual avoidance of group settings
  • Friends or family members may say the television is too loud
  • Difficulty hearing people on the phone
  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
  • Noticing tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Paradoxically, some sounds seem too loud, known as “recruitment”

3 Types of Hearing Loss

Causes of Hearing Loss

In addition to age, which causes degeneration of the inner ear over time, there are several other possible causes of hearing loss and they include:

  • Loud noise - exposure to loud noise damages cells of your inner ear
  • Heredity - genetic DNA can make you more susceptible to ear damage
  • Occupational noises - jobs with loud noise in the working environment
  • Recreational noises - possible causes could be firearms, motorcycles or loud music
  • Some medications - the antibiotic gentamicin, sildenafil (Viagra), very high aspirin doses, other pain relievers, antimalarial drugs, loop diuretics
  • Some illnesses - diseases that cause a high fever, like meningitis
  • Ear infections - may cause abnormal bone growth in the outer or middle ear
  • Ruptured eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation) a loud blast of noise, sudden change in pressure, poking your eardrum with an object

Treatment for Hearing Loss

There is no urgency in seeing a doctor unless your hearing loss is sudden, especially if it is just in one ear. Earwax blockage is a reversible cause of hearing loss. There are some surgical procedures that may reverse hearing loss, which include repairing abnormalities of the eardrum or bones in the ear.

Hearing aids are always an option. Cochlear implants are small, complex electronic devices. They can help someone who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. The implants are often used for deaf children, but they may be used for adults.

Hearing aids do not restore normal hearing, but they sure do improve your hearing. Hearing aids are typically digital, while using a hearing aid battery. They simply carry sounds into your inner ear and make them louder. Hearing aids vary a great deal in price, size, special features and the way they're placed in your ears. The hearing aid designers are attempting to make them smaller and more attractive.

There are completely-in-the-canal hearing aids that are modified to fit inside the ear canal. They treat mild to moderate hearing loss. This hearing aid is:

  • The smallest and least visible type
  • Is less likely to pick up wind noise
  • Uses very small batteries (they can be difficult to handle due to the small size)
  • No extra features are included, such as volume control
  • Susceptible to earwax clogging

Hearing aids are expensive and run from $1,000 to $6,000. Most people need a hearing aid for each ear and insurance typically does not cover this cost.

The Latest in Hearing Aids

Final Thoughts

Hearing loss is so common with aging, and there is no way to stop this loss from occurring. It is good to avoid loud noises. If you have a hobby that is loud you can wear ear plugs to protect your hearing. If you are losing your hearing you can check out hearing aids although no one really wants to use them. My mother passed away at 95 years of age last year, and her hearing aids were probably her biggest complaint. Hearing aids can be quite expensive and you probably get what you pay for in this case. If you are going deaf however, hearing aids may be a good choice.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Maria,

    Hearing aids are so expensive and I think they should be covered also. Many people cannot afford good quality ones. Thanks again for commenting.

    Love.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    10 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Informative article and videos, Pamela.

    I have always been bothered by the fact that insurance doesn't cover hearing aids - especially considering that 2 of 3 elders have some form of hearing loss.

    Thanks for the update - much appreciated. Hugs, Maria

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rajan,

    It is surely a good idea to do things that delay hearing loss. Thank you for reading and commenting,

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    11 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    Very informative article. Taking precautions like avoiding loud sounds/noise and keeping ear infections under control appears to delay this although hearing loss as you age is inevitable. Still, it can be delayed by following some precautions.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric,

    That metting with your oncologist is so funny. Many men would joke about that. Your son seems to be folowing in your footsteps. Thanks for commenting, Eric.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    This is so fascinating. I whined to my oncologist about hearing loss. He did four tests and told me that it was only my wife I could not hear. Hihihihi.

    My son/nephew got me a really great pair of headphones, he said it was so I would not listen. I get no break from my kids.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ms Dora,

    I hope you hearing loss never gets serious. I appreciate your comments, Dora. Stay safe and healthy.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    11 months ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for another helpful article, especially the causes and the treatments sections. I believe I have suffered some hearing loss, but my doctor doesn't seem to think that it's serious.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Adrienne,

    I'm sorry to hear about your mother. It seems every one hates hearing aids but there comes a time when there is no choice. You may a good point. Thank you for your comments.

  • alexadry profile image

    Adrienne Farricelli 

    11 months ago

    My mom has been suffering lately from more pronounced hearing loss and I am working on convincing her to wear her hearing aids. Especially after reading how research suggests that hearing loss in the elderly may predispose to dementia over time.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Happy Monday Doris,

    Thank you for that advice. think it might have been about ten years ago or maybe a bit more. I don't think his are digital.

    I will pass this information to him. It is much appreciated.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James MizBejabbers 

    11 months ago from Beautiful South

    Pamela, since you didn't say how long ago it was that your husband got hearing aids from the VA, I'm going to assume that it was more than 10 years ago. My husband's first ones from the VA 20 years ago were obsolete when he got them, and weren't very helpful. Those he has now are less 10 years old, and they were very good. However, it's about time he got them either readjusted or got new ones.

    If your husband's are more than 10 years old or if they are not digital, I think he should go back to the VA and get some of the new digital ones. I think he might be better pleased. However, there are people who have hearing loss in certain frequency ranges that hearing aids can't help. I have a friend whose father has that problem. I hope your husband isn't one of them.

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    11 months ago

    Thank you.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Robert,

    I guess hearing loss could contribute to disorientation if there was alread some dementia but I wouldn't think it would contribute otherwise. I am not a doctor so I am not sure about that.

    Than you for your comments.

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    11 months ago

    Thank you for another informative medical article. Does hearing loss in old age contribute to disorientation?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Doris,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I have wondered if those TV hearing aids were any good. I also having tinniitus especilly in my right ear and my hearing is getting a bit worse.

    My husband has hearing loss due to his Vietnams experience and he won't hear the hearing aids the VA provided as he says they don't help. LOL

    I appreciate all of your comments, Doris.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda,

    I agree that hearing aids are awfully expensive. Thank you for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Audry,

    As a muscian your hearing is so important, and I am glad to hear yours is good. I appreciate your comments.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    11 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    This is so informative. I love the way you explain the three primary parts of the ear. I'm so grateful for my hearing.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    11 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Thanks for sharing the information, Pamela. It's a great shame that hearing aids are so expensive. Hearing loss can create multiple problems.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James MizBejabbers 

    11 months ago from Beautiful South

    Very good informative article, Pamela. It took a lot of convincing me that I was losing my hearing because I've had tinnitus severely as long as I can remember. It covers a lot of normal sounds, so I was surprised to know that I really had a hearing loss. I got hearing aids, and they were partly covered by insurance, but they didn't improve my hearing. I hear a lot of people say they have hearing aids, but they can't tell any improvement either. In 2013 when I got them, insurance covered part of the cost because state law demanded it. But then the "other" political party came into power and repealed the law. I think these sold online are a real boon that most people can wear. When I lost one of my expensive ones, I bought a pair for $300 online that are actually better than the medically prescribed ones at $4,000.

    My poor husband lost his hearing due to the guns used in training and being an aircraft mechanic in the Vietnam War. The VA has provided him with a very good set of digital ones that have a remote volume control like a TV set. It's almost time for these to be replaced, so it will be interesting to see what his next ones will be like.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Cheryl,

    Thak you so much for your comments. Be safe nd healthy.

  • Cheryl E Preston profile image

    Cheryl E Preston 

    11 months ago from Roanoke

    This is so very informative. Thank you for this great article on hearing loss.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Abby,

    Your friends are speaking from their experience, so that is probably true. Thank you for your comments. I hope you are having a good weekend.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Liz,

    I doubt if we would have turned the music down even if we knew. I appreciate your comments, Liz. I hope you are having a nice weekend.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    11 months ago from UK

    This is a helpful and interesting article, especially as hearing loss is set to affect so many of us. If only more could be done to educate us all at a younger age about the risks of loud noise. But, then again, when we were young, we probably would not have listened to the advice.

  • Abby Slutsky profile image

    Abby Slutsky 

    11 months ago from America

    This was informative as mine is not as good as it used to be. Some of my friends recently got hearing aids and felt that the larger ones actually do a better job.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Sp,

    I think having Bluetooth would be an incentive to wear the hearing aids. It is important to protect your hearing when it is good.

    Thank you for your comments. Have a nice weekend.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy,

    Hearing aids are so expensive. It would be good if some of the cost would be picked up by insurance. My husband won't even try to get use to his. He got them from the VA and he might have worn them twice. I appreciate your comments, Peggy. I hope you are having a nice weekend.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda,

    My husband is hard of hearing also and refuses to wear hearing aids. He hung out of helicopters in Vietnam shooting a machine gun. I would hope the militarty is protecting the hearing of our soldiers these days.

    Thanks for your comments. I hope you are having a nice weekend.

  • Carb Diva profile image

    Linda Lum 

    11 months ago from Washington State, USA

    Pamela, my poor father-in-law was so hard of hearing we resorted to using a hand-held white board and writing our questions or comments.

    My husband's hearing is somewhat damaged--he was an aircraft mechanic in the Navy during the Viet Nam war. I think (hope) they are more careful nowadays about ear protection.

    I "think" I'm OK, but have noticed that I am stepping up the volume on the TV one more click on the remote than what I was using a few years ago. This is a well-written article and explains a lot. Thank you.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    11 months ago from Houston, Texas

    My dad never adjusted to his hearing aids and ended up not using them. Of course, that was many years ago. It is a shame that insurance does not pick up at least part of the cost. Many people cannot afford to purchase them even if needed.

  • sangre profile image

    Sp Greaney 

    11 months ago from Ireland

    I know a lady who got a hearing aid that has Bluetooth! She can use it to listen to audio books from her mobile phone while travelling. So as you say the more expensive they are, the more they deliver.

    I think the symptoms and signs are something we all should know because we are all going to have some issues with this later on in life.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rosina,

    It is important to take care of your good hearing. I am glad you found this article useful. Thanks for your comments. Have a nice weekend.

  • surovi99 profile image

    Rosina S Khan 

    11 months ago

    This is a wonderful article about hearing loss that many will find useful and informative. As for me, I came to know many things on the topic and can take extra measures from now. Thanks for sharing, Pamela.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Flourish,

    You have had quite a bit of experience with people that do not hear very well. The younger ones choud pay attention to your warnings as they will live to regret their decisions. Thanks for sharing your family experience and commenting. Have a wonderful weekend.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    11 months ago from USA

    I constantly warn the young people in my life to watch the volume of their earbuds. I tell them that if I can hear your earphone music half way across the room it’s damaging your hearing! My grandfather had severe hearing loss as he aged and my Dad has had progressive hearing loss for several decades. We have louder than normal conversations and often he mishears what is said and reacts or responds in a funny or outrageous way.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi MG,

    I thought hearing loss was a good topic that I have not previously written about and so many people suffer from hearing loss. I am glad your friend's hearing improved. Thanks for your comments.

  • emge profile image

    MG Singh emge 

    11 months ago from Singapore

    One of my friends suffered a hearing loss and he was feeling terrible. I accompanied him to various specialists and finally he did get better. You have written an excellent article on a fact which is not given much importance.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Danny,

    You make some excellent points that I believe are true. Teens like to play music too loud also. I know there are small children that are deaf but I focused this article more for adults. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Louise,

    It is a little unusual to only wear one hearing aid but I have hearig loss in just one ear. I don't have to use a hearing aid at this time. Thank you so much for your comments. Have a great weekend.

  • Danny Fernandes profile image

    Danny 

    11 months ago from India

    Useful information Pamela.

    It's not only older people, but even the younger generation is facing hearing loss nowadays. It is only due to our hectic lifestyles, environmental pollution & constant honking on roads, blasting high decibel firecrackers, and loud banter in public places which contributes to such LIFESTYLE ailments.

    We need to go back to eco-conscious and sustainable living before the universe backfires.

    We can observe that natural disasters are all due to humans not mending their fast-paced lifestyles and carrying their wanton environmental chopping activities.

  • Coffeequeeen profile image

    Louise Powles 

    11 months ago from Norfolk, England

    This was really interesting to read. I have hearing loss in my right ear and wear a hearing aid, so this was really useful.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Bill,

    It sounds like your hearing is about like mine and I have tinnitus also. Yes, your spelling is fine. Thanks for sharing your experience and for your comments. Have a good weekend, Bill.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lorna,

    Hearing aids have surely improved. I don't think my mother had the best ones and she complained more abut them then anything else. I hope your brother is paying attention to your comments. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi John,

    My husband and I do the same. I know about the selective hearing also. LOL Thanks s much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ann,

    I'm glad to hear that your hearing is good. I have some loss in my right ear, which I have really noticed lately. It is nice of you not to say anything about the loud TV. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    11 months ago from Olympia, WA

    Yep, been there, doing that, but it's not bad and I don't really mind it. I'm okay most of the time, but if there are several competing sounds going on at the same time, that's when I run into trouble hearing. I also have tinnitus, but I'm so accustomed to the ringing I don't even notice it now. Did I spell that correctly? Another sign of aging; I was once an excellent speller. :)

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    11 months ago

    I remember my grandmother complaining about her hearing aids and how painful they felt. However, there have been many advancements in hearing such as the ones mentioned. However, they are very expensive. I have to remind my brother when he is cutting the grass to put in ear plugs. This is another helpful and interesting article Pamela which many people will benefit from reading.

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 

    11 months ago from Gondwana Land

    A useful article Pamela. We all experience some hearing loss with time. My wife and I always accuse each other of being hard of hearing...often it is selective hearing I think haha.

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 

    11 months ago from SW England

    Thanks for this interesting overview, Pamela. Fortunately, my hearing is good but I often complain that the tv is too loud as someone else seems to be having difficulties hearing!! Not just the tv either but I don't like to say anything.

    Ann

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