Following arthritis and hypertension, age-related hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical health issue among older adults. Medically known as presbycusis, this type of hearing loss affects one in three adults aged 62 and older. Slow and steady age-related hearing loss most often occurs in both ears, generally happening so gradually that it can go unnoticed for a time. Common causes include changes to the inner or middle ear, injury or infections, or changes to the nerve pathways between the ear and the brain. Genetic makeup, congenital abnormalities, chemotherapy, and medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension may result in hearing loss. Some hearing loss may also be associated with micronutrient deficiencies.
Conducted hearing loss, a condition in which sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer ear canal to the ear drum, can sometimes be corrected surgically or medically. However, most hearing loss, whether mild, moderate or severe is permanent. Currently, hearing assisted technology, such as hearing aids, telephone amplifiers and TV listening devices, are frequently used to improve hearing. Oftentimes, people who experience hearing loss have both age-related and noise-induced conditions. Alarmingly, noise-induced hearing loss now affects the younger population as well. Statistics show that almost 15% of children aged 6 – 19 have some degree of hearing loss.
Long term exposure to loud noises can damage the sensory hair cells in the ear that make hearing possible. Once damaged, the ability to hear is diminished and does not return.
- Sudden noise-induced hearing loss may be caused by short bursts of explosive noise such as from fireworks or explosions.
- Over time, those who work in certain noisy occupations, such as construction workers, landscapers, musicians, airport workers and, especially, military personnel, may eventually experience mild to severe hearing loss.
- Exposure to recreational sustained loud noise, such as listening to earsplitting music through ear buds, is believed to be the main reason that adolescents and teens are experiencing hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable. Avoid potentially damaging situations where:
- You have to shout in order to be heard by a nearby person.
- The noise is so loud that it actually hurts your ears.
- Normal hearing does not return until several hours after noise exposure.
- You develop a ringing (tinnitus) or buzzing sound in your ears, an indication that some sensory hair cells have died and some hearing loss has occurred.
We have become so accustomed to noise from traffic, household appliances, airplanes passing overhead or even the alarm clock, that we may not notice the constant noise barrage. Noise reduction techniques can help to reduce hearing loss.
- Turn off the TV or radio when not in active use.
- Protect your ears in the workplace. Block the noise with earplugs or specially designed earmuffs that bring down the volume, while still allowing you to hear.
- Turn down the volume when listening to music or watching TV.
- Take breaks from loud noise during recreational activities to protect your hearing.
- When possible, avoid situations where you know hearing damage is likely to occur.
In the case of older adults, sometimes the inability to hear properly may be mistaken for signs of age-related cognitive problems. If you have experienced hearing loss, make sure to let friends and family know. Ask people to speak directly to you without shouting. People do not need to speak more slowly, just more clearly. Reduce background noise to make it easier to hear when people are speaking and ask them to face you when they speak. In public, such as a restaurant or gathering, try to find a quiet place to talk, away from the noisiest areas. See a doctor to ensure hearing loss is not attributable to ear wax buildup, and consider being fitted for hearing aids, as getting treatment can dramatically improve quality of life.
Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality products to support ear and overall health:
Citrus-Q10 100 mg by Douglas Laboratories – Essential for the health of all tissues and organs, CoQ10 deficiency is associated with a higher risk of hearing loss. CoQ10 may improve tinnitus, which often accompanies hearing loss. These citrus flavored chewables provide 100 mg of natural CoQ10 per tablet. Gluten, soy and dairy free, vegan formulation.
Magnesium (citrate) by Pure Encapsulations – Magnesium helps to protect the nerves and the hair cells of the inner ear from free radical damage, and provides a protective effect against noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus, both associated with magnesium deficiency. Gluten, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Vitamin A 10,000 IU by Vital Nutrients – Vitamin A sufficiency may play a preventative and therapeutic role in helping to allay tinnitus and age-related hearing loss. Vitamin A deficiency may result in a decline in the number of sensory cells in the inner ear. Sourced from fish oil.
Active B-Complex by Integrative Therapeutics – B vitamins promote healthy ear functioning and help to reduce ear pressure. B vitamin sufficiency is associated with increased circulation, providing oxygen to critical nerve cells, and may be therapeutic for acute noise-induced hearing loss. Gluten, soy and dairy free, vegetarian formulation.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine Capsules by Designs for Health – NAC may be helpful in protecting the cochlea from sudden noise-induced hearing loss. Controlled studies have shown that NAC may help protect hair cells from damage due to excessive noise, reducing hearing loss. Gluten, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Prevention of Hearing Loss. http://www.hearingloss.org/content/prevention-hearing-loss
Age-Related Hearing Loss. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/age-related-hearing-loss
Presbycusis (Age-Related Hearing Loss). http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Hearing_Loss_Communication_Strategies_for_Family_and_Friends/hic-presbycusis-age-related-hearing-loss
Top 10 tips to help protect your hearing. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/hearing-problems/Pages/tips-to-protect-hearing.aspx
Preventing Hearing Loss. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hearing-impairment/Pages/Prevention.aspx
Basic Facts About Hearing Loss. http://www.hearingloss.org/content/basic-facts-about-hearing-loss
How To Recognize Hearing Loss. http://hearinghealthfoundation.org/how-to-recognize-hearing-loss