While aging is an entirely natural part of life, for some, aging also means a decline in the ability to hear. We work so hard and save religiously to secure retirement, only to later encounter several common age-related health concerns. Unfortunately, hearing loss is pretty common in seniors, and the ailment is known to occur gradually.
Because the onset of age-related hearing loss is typically gradual, identifying the signs and symptoms can be challenging at first. Hearing loss is also known to take a toll on relationships, impacting loved ones enormously in some cases.
The Signs And Symptoms
Those experiencing decreased hearing will strain and battle to keep up with conversations, constantly asking others to repeat what they have just said. It also becomes frustrating to struggle to understand what others are saying. In addition to this, another sign of hearing loss is turning TV volumes louder, speaking at a loud volume, and struggling to understand phone conversations.
Even though it’s pretty tempting to blame the aging process when it comes to hearing loss, more factors are at play than mere age. Healthcare practitioners believe that hearing loss occurs from a combination of genetic, environmental, and even lifestyle factors. As a result, there are also different types of hearing loss. Most cases also point to changes within the inner ear, where sound waves are converted into nerve impulses.
But there are treatments available for hearing loss. There is a multitude of solutions that all aim to boost the quality of life of the patient. Even treatments that cannot improve hearing can achieve this common goal because they enhance communication abilities.
Nevertheless, if you suspect that you might be experiencing hearing loss or have noticed the signs and symptoms in a loved one, let’s take a deeper look at the different treatment options for age-related hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Treatments
Some initial treatments used to correct or minimize hearing loss include the removal of wax or the presence of a foreign object that may be reducing hearing abilities.
In other cases, an acute or long-term middle-ear infection can lead to hearing loss. In this case, the infection is promptly treated with appropriate antibiotics.
Moreover, eardrum perforation is also a common cause of decreased hearing abilities, and in this case, the injury or damage caused by infection can be corrected with tympanoplasty surgery. During this corrective surgery, a small piece of tissue is removed, and the membrane is then repaired, restoring hearing.
Hearing Aid Devices
Hearing aid devices are also commonly used to correct age-related hearing loss. These devices amplify sounds entering the ear and are effective in enhancing hearing abilities. These devices consist of components like an amplifier, microphone, loudspeaker, and battery.
While hearing aids were previously quite bulky, innovation has made more discreet hearing aid devices a new reality.
With this, there are also different types of hearing aid devices, like behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), completely-in-the-canal (CIC), and body-worn (BE) hearing aid devices.
Your healthcare practitioner will recommend the most suitable device depending on the cause and severity of the hearing loss.
Other Treatment Options
In some situations, patients are prescribed middle ear implants. These implants are installed within the ear through a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Middle ear implants help enhance the conductivity of sound within the ear, enhancing hearing abilities significantly.
Cochlear implants are inner ear implants inserted through a short surgical procedure. This treatment is recommended for patients experiencing a sensorineural decrease in hearing in both ears.
Lastly, another option that is available for patients experiencing severe hearing loss that cannot be enhanced substantially through any of the above-listed treatments is signed speech and lip-reading lessons. These lessons help patients, and their loved ones communicate despite hearing loss or even deafness.
Coping With Hearing Loss
In addition to treatment options, there are ways to cope with the symptoms of hearing loss.
It’s vital that family and friends are supportive and understanding of the senior experiencing a decrease in hearing. With this, conversations can be held in quieter environments, while talking louder and clearer can also help individuals hear and understand and communicate more easily.
Moreover, signed speech lessons for loved ones can also enhance communication within the family.
Hearing loss and deafness are relatively common health ailments that can negatively impact the quality of life and personal relationships. But there are several effective treatment options available. Moreover, with the constant evolution of medicine and technology, we can expect more hearing loss solutions to emerge soon.