Hearing loss is among the ailments that affect seniors most frequently. Nearly half of those over 75 have trouble hearing clearly, and one in three seniors between the ages of 65 and 75 experience hearing impairment. Seniors feel isolated from the outside world due to hearing issues, and their quality of life can get negatively impacted. Hearing impairment significantly impacts how seniors perceive and respond to their surroundings. Numerous communication issues are brought on by hearing problems, along with difficulties in thinking or focusing. Inattention, distraction, boredom, and irritation may also result from this. A senior’s quality of life may suffer significantly from hearing impairment.
Much more than your capacity to hear sounds might be impacted by hearing issues. Some mental and emotional side effects of hearing problems are anger, denial, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, social withdrawal, and exhaustion.
Hearing Loss Types in seniors
The different types of hearing loss commonly seen in seniors are:
1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Someone with this hearing impairment experiences problems with the cochlea or acoustic nerve. These structures may get damaged due to exposure to loud noises, disease (meningitis), taking ototoxic drugs, heredity, or ageing. Treatments for it, which is irreversible, include cochlear implants and hearing aids.
2. Conductive Hearing Loss: When something blocks sound from entering the inner ear through the outer or middle ear, it results in this type of deafness. This can happen if earwax or fluid accumulates in the ear canal or if the eardrum or middle ear bones are damaged (ossicles). A congenital abnormality, such as atresia or microtia, may also prevent sound waves from reaching the ear and stimulating the acoustic nerve.
3. Sudden Deafness: A person may experience it all at once or spread it over three days, and it should be treated as a medical emergency. Visit a doctor immediately if you or someone you know suddenly develops sensorineural hearing issues.
4. Age-related Hearing impairment: As a person ages, presbycusis, or age-related hearing issues, gradually develop. It appears to run in families and could be brought on by alterations to the auditory nerve and inner ear. A person with presbycusis could find it challenging to tolerate loud noises or hear what others say.
Both ears are often equally affected by age-related hearing problems. Someone with presbycusis might not be aware that they have lost some of their hearing because the loss is gradual.
Hearing Loss Symptoms
Usually, hearing impairment develops over time. You might not first detect any changes in your hearing. However, you should see a doctor if you suffer any of the following symptoms:
- Hearing issues interfering with your daily activities
- Deafness that becomes worse or that doesn’t go away
- Hearing loss in one ear
- Sudden hearing loss in one ear (usually temporarily in the beginning)
- Ringing in the ear like a buzzing sound
- Severe hearing impairment from the past few days or weeks
- Experiencing sudden ear pain along with hearing problems
- Headaches, numbness, and weakness
How Do Hearing Issues Affect Your Mental Health?
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, hearing impairment can negatively affect your emotions. The following are a few outcomes of hearing problems:
1. Anger and Denial
Losing your hearing can cause a significant change in your way of life that can be difficult to adapt to, which might make you angry. Because hearing impairment is a change that is difficult to embrace, it is common for people with it to be in denial about how severe their hearing issues are.
2. Depression and Anxiety
You may experience melancholy and depression after losing your hearing because you may feel like you have lost a piece of your identity. Crying, slower reactions, weight changes, and irregular sleep habits are all signs of depression. Anxiety can also be brought on by hearing issues. According to Rhee Rosenman-Nesson, AuD of WebMD Connect to Care, “when someone with hearing loss is faced with having a conversation with someone else…it can produce a lot of stress and fear that they are going to miss portions of the conversation and let on that they are struggling to hear.”
3. Isolation and Social Withdrawal
It is typical to avoid noisy environments to reduce stress, worry, and humiliation related to your hearing loss. Additionally, social disengagement and isolation can exacerbate or contribute to depressive symptoms. According to Paul K. Farrell, AuD, of WebMD Connect to Care, “the aggravation of not being able to hear in these circumstances may lead patients to avoid going out in public or meeting up with family and friends, which might tragically cause them to become socially isolated.”
You can experience fatigue or exhaustion if you lose your hearing since it takes more effort to hear clearly because listening requires so much effort. Hence, people with hearing loss frequently report feeling physically weary at the end of the day from the strain of attempting to hear and understand what others are saying.
How Do You Talk To The Seniors Suffering From Hearing Issues?
Here are the tips with which one can easily communicate with seniors suffering from hearing problems:
- Include deaf people in group conversations
- Choose a quiet location to speak to help limit background noise, especially in restaurants and at social gatherings
- Use your posture and facial expressions to convey hints while standing in a well-lit area
- Speak loudly while maintaining eye contact. Keep your eyes in contact.
- Speak slightly louder than usual, but don’t yell. Try to speak naturally and slowly.
- Speak clearly and quickly
- Avoid eating, chewing gum, or covering your mouth when speaking.
- By asking how you can help them.
- If required, repeat it using alternative terms
- Try to limit the number of speakers to one at a time.
- Be tolerant. Remain upbeat and at ease.
Is There Any Hearing Loss Test That Exists For Seniors?
Various renounced Global organisations and Doctors advise that seniors should have an audiologist check their hearing at least once every ten years through age 50, every three years after they touch 50, or more regularly if they have known exposures to risk factors for hearing problems and to remove hearing loss disability. Some tests to check inner ear problems are Electroneuronography, APD testing, and the Rotary chair test.
Hearing Loss Treatment
- Hearing Loss Treatment in Ayurveda
Using lukewarm mustard oil will improve hearing in some cases and reduce ear pain. But it is not a permanent solution, and one should soon visit an ENT specialist. Other than Mustard Oil, a mixture of neem and turmeric after boiling them with water would be another better remedy. Another remedy is Applewood Oil. Several substances are needed to make the finished oil for the ear. The applewood powder needs to be added to the boiled cow’s pee. Then, this mixture needs to be strained before adding goat’s milk and sesame. This mixture is then cooked, and the resulting oil needs to be preserved and used daily using cotton. This significantly enhances hearing.
- Other Options
You can remove the wax at home if it causes hearing issues and an accumulation in the ear canal. The wax from the ear can be eliminated with over-the-counter products, such as wax softeners. To eliminate the wax, syringes can also force warm water through the ear canal. To avoid unintentionally harming your ear, seek medical advice before attempting to remove any object lodged in your ear.
You must visit your physician to determine any additional reasons for hearing problems. Your doctor might need to recommend antibiotics if your hearing issues result from an infection. Your doctor could suggest you see a specialist and get a hearing aid or a cochlear implant if the cause of your hearing loss is a conductive hearing problem.
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Can hearing loss in seniors be cured?
No, age-related hearing loss in seniors cannot be totally fixed. However, with the advice and guidance of doctors, listening aids and hearing devices can be used to manage the challenge and improve the quality of life in seniors.
What does losing your hearing feel like?
Speech and other noises become muffled. Comprehending words is difficult, especially in noisy environments or when surrounded by others. There are difficulties in hearing consonants and requests are frequent for others to talk louder, slowly, and more clearly.
What is the main cause of hearing loss?
Hearing impairment is a result of ageing and repeated exposure to loud noises. Your ears’ ability to conduct sound may also momentarily get diminished by factors such as heavy ear wax.
Which ear do you wear a hearing aid?
Hearing capacity should be the same in both ears for overall sound experience and it is better if the brain receives information from both ears.
If it is immaterial in which ear you wear it then wear it in the ear where you may feel comfortable and from where the purpose of amplifying sound gets implemented optimally.
Can you go deaf from using headphones?
Using headphones while listening to loud music might harm the inner ear and can result in hearing issues. The loudest setting on an Apple iPhone when using headphones is 102 dB, even just a few songs at this volume can cause hearing impairment.
What exercises improve hearing?
Exercises do not prove to be 100 per cent successful, and they only help in improving hearing if done regularly. Exercises like sound focus through meditation, sound therapy, singing in the shower, etc. may be helpful.
Can hearing loss be cured naturally?
No, it is similar to an increasing eye power which once starts declining, cannot be restored entirely up to its natural stage. Extra activities may only help in improving the loss slightly.
Can stress cause hearing loss?
Yes, stress is one of the reasons for sudden hearing impairment.