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What Are Some Factors that Lead to Age-Related Hearing Loss?

By Ashley King

As we get older, many struggle with the issue of losing our hearing, leaving us feeling frustrated, confused and handicapped. As with most issues, getting a grasp on why it happens and how to deal with the problem is the best way to carry on. Presbycusis is defined as age-related loss of hearing and is caused by growing older as well as a handful of other reasons. There are several different contributors to it that we can make an effectual difference on, but there are also many more causes that we cannot influence one way or the other.

One of the influential factors in the onset of age-induced hearing loss is widely thought to be heredity. You may find yourself with increased odds of hearing loss if your parents or grandparents experienced the same type of issues when they got older.

Naturally, people whose line of employment has them in noisy environs and frequently being in the presence of loud noises increases the chances of losing hearing. You can even attribute the issue of hearing loss to spending too much time listening to loud music through headphones.

Other issues that can put you at a greater risk for hearing impairment is your age, gender or race. No decided upon cutoff exists for when hearing impairment is decided to be related to aging, but it is uncommon for individuals to receive this diagnosis before the age of 50. Our risk gets bigger and bigger as we age and you will find that once a person reaches 65 years old, half of the people in their age group are experiencing this type of loss.

As far as sex is concerned, men seem to be more at risk for the condition than women. The variance between the sexes increases notably with age, and according to studies conducted by the National Academy on Aging Society 60% of all people that have hearing impairment are men.

Though this may change a bit as age increases, Caucasian people more often deal with loss of hearing than African American people. Whites have 91% of the hearing impairment issues in the United States, but only make up 83% of the population as a whole according the NAAS.

What brings about the hearing loss are minute and subtle alterations that occur over time in the mechanics of the inner ear. We are able to hear sounds that are high-pitched because of the portion of the ear that is called the cochlea, which often changes with age. The cochlea functions by having the minuscule hairs within it gather vibrations and transforming them into nerve impulses that our brains can understand. We lose some of these hairs and nerve endings as we get older, which is very normal. We lose hearing because of this as these hairs do not grow back.

The acoustic nerve may get damaged over time, and the cochlea also becomes less flexible, both making presbycusis more likely.

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