Updated: Mar 29
Hearing loss comes to people's attention in different ways, but always one feels that something has changed.
Deterioration of the human's auditory system starts at about age 50. Some could notice their difficulty in hearing even earlier than that. Factors contributing to the timing of the start and the slope of the decline include:
Genetics and what you inherit from your parents
Your general health, any underlying health issues (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, chemotherapy for cancer, ...)
The side effect of other medicines you use (e.g. strong antibiotics, anti-depression pills,...)
Exposure to loud noise or sound e.g. working in a construction site, or simply listening to very loud music in concerts or with headphone
Acoustic trauma e.g. gunshot, bomb blast
Your stress level
How would I notice that I started having hearing loss due to ageing?
The deterioration of hearing due to ageing starts with losing sensitivity to high pitch sounds. Common symptoms for one experiencing hearing loss due to ageing could be:
Feeling people's voices, especially women and children is muffled
Difficulty in hearing the sound of birds and crackling of the leaves
Reduced speech intelligibility i.e. following the conversation becomes harder and harder, especially in the presence of noise e.g. in conversation in coffee shops and restaurants
Other signs of hearing loss when at a severe stage could include the TV volume being very loud, or the individual starting to miss the doorbell.
Does hearing loss due to ageing happen at once?
The answer is no. Hearing loss due to ageing is very slow and quite gradual. Often the people around the individual notice it first e.g. the wife notices that her husband doesn't respond to her calls (the women's voice is high pitched).
How to confirm if I have hearing loss due to ageing?
If you are age 50 or higher and have any of the above symptoms the best advice is to have a hearing test. Even if you feel that your hearing thresholds are still very good a hearing test at 50 would set a baseline for your auditory system that future you and your audiologist could refer to.
What can be done with hearing loss due to ageing?
The best point to start addressing your hearing loss due to ageing is to have a comprehensive hearing test. There are several techniques including hearing aids that could help you manage your hearing loss.
To start, you could try our 5-minute free online hearing test.