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Hearing Loss: Why Does Hearing Deteriorate As We Get Older?

Aging certainly has some positive side effects – wisdom gained from life experience, rich relationships with family and often financial security. But unfortunately, growing older can also lead to the deterioration of certain physical systems like hearing. No one likes to experience hearing loss, but part of grasping the change and seeking effective help comes from understanding the causes of progressive hearing loss.

Primary Causes of Most Hearing Loss

The auditory system is delicate and intricate, with tiny hair cells inside the inner ear that amplify sound waves. “The amplification, without which the auditory system is effectively deaf, can be traced to the correct functioning of a group of motile sensory hair cells, the outer hair cells of the cochlea,” says Jonathan Ashmore in an article published by the journal Physiological Reviews. These hair cells break down and die over time. And unfortunately, once the cells are gone they don’t regenerate, so the hearing loss that results is permanent. Other changes to the ear that can occur over time, especially when secondary factors are introduced, are decreased blood flow to the ear, changes to the structure of the inner ear and deterioration of the nerves in the ear. No two cases of hearing loss are identical, but it generally occurs slowly and progressively over time.

Some Secondary Contributors to Hearing Loss

A number of environmental and lifestyle factors are related to the decline of hearing function as one ages. These include damage from noisy environments like factory work or loud rock concerts, genetic factors, smoking, poor circulation, medical conditions like diabetes or medication taken over time. The behavioral risk factors, such as smoking and repeated exposure to loud noises, can be ceased or reduced to help lessen the severity of your hearing loss and improve your general health and quality of life.

What To Do When You Recognize Hearing Loss

No one likes to face the reality of hearing loss, but when you notice that you are asking people to repeat themselves frequently, turning up the volume often, struggling to hear voices over the telephone or hearing a ringing in your ears, you should act quickly to get effective help that will tune you back in to the world around you. In fact, most people don’t even realize they’ve been training their brain to deal with the hearing loss until they get fitted with hearing aids and get to hear the difference. For an initial assessment, you can take the online hearing test at Beltone.com. If you confirm a hearing deficiency, visit your local Beltone Hearing Care Center for a comprehensive evaluation and an introduction to the array of Beltone hearing aid products. We treat each patient as the unique individual they are, and we have a solution that can turn the volume back up on the sounds you want to hear.

Beltone Stands Ready To Help You Navigate

At Beltone, we stand ready with experienced professionals who love helping customers craft the best plan for their hearing needs. Our hearing aid systems are comfortable, convenient, effective and economical, and we pride ourselves on our knowledge of hearing health and our attention to customer service. Call for an appointment today, 1-800-BELTONE (235-8663).

John Cariola, Au.D.
John has been working in the audiology industry since 1983 and has a true love and passion for everything the hearing health world has to offer. He grew up witnessing the British Invasion of The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, etc. which really means he started out life with sound, really loud sound. And his passion for all sound continues today. John is currently Beltone's Director of Product Management. More About John

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