Based on a 2005 survey by the RNID, the UK has over 9 million hard of hearing people.
One of the most common causes is presbycusis, the medical term for age-related hearing loss. In fact, figures suggest that out of the 9 million hard of hearing, 6.5 million are over the age of 65 years old. Unlike other types of hearing loss, like noise induced hearing loss, presbycusis cannot simply be prevented by living a health life style. At some point, it will almost certainly affect your life style or that of someone you know.
How Does It Happen?
This type of hearing loss usually affects both ears in equal measure and can take place gradually, making it quite difficult to track. From an anatomical prospective, there are tiny haircells inside the inner ear which allow us to pick up sound. These tiny haircells are designed to pick up waves of sound and to translate these waves into neural signals for the brain to interpret. As the body ages, some of the haircells may be damaged.
Will I Suffer From Age Related Hearing Loss?
Hard to answer. How quickly and at what rate haircells are affected can be influenced by various factors such as family history, medication, and exposure to noise over the years.
What Are The Treatments?
Although there is much research into cures for this such as implantable haircells, at the moment presbycusis is a permanent and irreversible condition. Modern technology offers an array of products which all work on the basis of amplifying external sound in a non-intrusive manner. There are ALDs or Assistive Listening Devices which includes a number of day to day devices which have been specifically designed for the hard of hearing, such as amplified phones, amplified doorbells or TV listeners. There are also hearing aids, which, if digital, are micro computers, housed in small casings and deliver amplified sound into your ear canal using a variety of different styles and designs.
What Should I Do If I Suspect I have a Hearing Loss?
If you suspect you have a hearing loss, and you experience signs such as difficulty in hearing someone talking within noise or having to turn up the television more than others in the room, you should book an appointment for a hearing test. It is important to investigate not only the potential reason for your hearing loss, but also to provide a baseline for your hearing ability.