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Is Hearing Loss Inevitable?

There’s a common misconception today that hearing loss is inevitable; many people even view it as a natural part of getting older.  However, that’s not exactly true. While hearing loss does affect elderly people, it’s not entirely due to their age. Hearing loss can start at any age, whether you’re 7 or 70.  Our Oklahoma audiology clinic sees elderly patients every day that have excellent hearing and others begin to experience hearing loss without any single cause. So why is hearing loss seemingly so common in the elderly?  Keep reading to learn more, then visit us online for more informative resources and articles on hearing loss and prevention.

How Hearing Loss is Caused

To answer that question, you need to know how hearing loss works.  While we’ve discussed this in detail here, the quick answer is that your sense of hearing is dependent on the health of extremely small hair cells in your inner ear.  However, unlike most other cells, when they are damaged, they cannot be repaired. This is why protecting your ears from loud noises or refraining from using q-tips is so important.

This also means that the effects of hearing loss are cumulative and is why hearing loss is more evident in older people.  Small amounts of hearing damage over the years continues to build, creating larger problems in older individuals than they would on their own in a younger person.  Many younger individuals most likely already have some form of hearing loss; it simply isn’t noticeable or having an adverse effect on your life.

Other Factors to Consider

That’s not the complete answer to the question, however.  Even if you take perfect care of your ears for your entire life, you can still be affected by hearing loss.  The reason for this is partly because even if you protect those hair cells, they will still decay over time, just like any other cell.  In addition, there are other ways those cells can be damaged other than noise, such as:

  • Family history.  Hearing loss has a genetic component, so if your family experienced hearing loss, you could have a higher chance of experiencing it yourself.
  • Smoking.  In addition to the most commonly known risks of smoking, nicotine can also increase your chances of hearing loss.
  • Medications.  Certain medications, such as some antibiotics, diuretics, and chemotherapy treatments, can affect the overall health of your hearing.
  • Diseases.  A number of different diseases and conditions can affect your hearing, including meningitis, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders in your inner ear.

Summing It All Up

To put it simply, hearing loss on some level is natural as those hair cells begin to wear down over time.  However, the amount of hearing loss that occurs due to the aging process is low. Instead, when that damage is accelerated by loud noises, health factors, and your lifestyle, that’s when it becomes what we commonly think of when we refer to hearing loss.  So in a sense, hearing loss is inevitable, but the extent and severity of hearing loss can be affected by different prevention methods.

To learn more about hearing loss and what steps you can take to ensure the health of your hearing, contact Audio Recovery today.  Our team of audiologists is dedicated to answering all of your questions and giving you the tools you need to live a healthy lifestyle.  Call us today at 405-949-1906 or schedule an appointment online anytime.  We’d love to meet with you.