The deterioration of our hearing can be a natural sign of getting older. The degree of age-related hearing loss or presbycusis, to give it its medical name, varies between individuals according to factors such as genetics and the environment the person has been exposed to. However, age-related hearing loss can begin in the 40s and it’s estimated that 40% of people over 50 have some degree of hearing loss, a number that rises to 70% by the time people reach their 70s.

Here, Leicester-based audiologist Claire Marshall explains the symptoms and treatments available for age-related hearing loss.

What is age-related hearing loss?

The combination of genetic and environmental factors affecting the inner ear is the single biggest cause of age-related hearing loss. It is mainly caused by the natural wear and tear to the tiny sensory hair cells inside the cochlea (the inner ear’s hearing organ). Age-related hearing loss tends to affect both ears and as we have seen, the symptoms have a tendency to worsen as time passes.

What are the signs of age-related hearing damage?

Any of the following symptoms can be a sign of age-related hearing loss:

  • You notice that people seem to be mumbling more and more.
  • You often have to ask people to repeat what they have said to you.
  • Other people comment that the volume on your TV or radio is loud.
  • You struggle to hear what’s being said during phone conversations.
  • It’s difficult to hear what’s being said in noisy environments or when any background noise is present.
  • Social situations become stressful and tiring as you struggle to keep track of the conversation.
  • Higher frequency sounds like women’s and children’s voices are especially difficult to understand.
  • Consonants like ‘th’, ‘f’ and ‘s’ become harder to hear.

When should I seek help for age-related hearing loss?

In the early stages, you may not even notice the signs of age-related hearing loss and if it’s mild it can be tempting to just put it down to being a natural sign of getting older. It’s also common for people to dismiss the signs as external to them – for example when they think that people are always mumbling or that the acoustics of a room are bad. However, if you begin to pick up on the signs, particularly if your loved ones have told you they’ve noticed you’re asking them to repeat things more or that you keep turning the TV up too loud, it’s important to make an appointment with an audiologist to get to the bottom of the problem.

Here at the Hearing Centre, we don’t require a medical referral in order to see you for a consultation and we offer an advanced hearing test service in Leicester that is not available on the NHS.

What will happen at my audiologist appointment?

Before any presbycusis diagnosis is made, our hearing specialist will rule out other causes of hearing loss such as the build-up of ear wax or an ear infection. If a problem like this is identified and treated, you may find that your hearing improves and no further action needs to be taken at this time.

Your audiologist will conduct a series of hearing tests to make their diagnosis and advise on the best course of treatment.

What happens if age-related hearing loss is diagnosed?

There is no cure for age-related hearing loss; however the good news is that the Hearing Centre’s audiologists can recommend the best course of action in order for you to live fully without your loss of hearing negatively impacting your quality of life. Our range of technologically advanced hearing aids includes invisible in the ear canal (IIC) hearing aids. These custom-made hearing aids offer the very best in performance and aesthetics by fitting deeper into the ear canal than any other type of hearing aid.

Book an appointment with an expert audiologist today

If you believe you may be affected by age-related hearing loss, call us on 0116 254 3909 to arrange an appointment or complete our online booking form and we will respond to you as soon as possible.