It’s called presbycusis, but you likely know it as age-related hearing loss. It affects about 25% of the population who reach the age of 65, and it often develops because of gradual changes to parts of your ear or nerves that connect to your brain.
Other circumstances, such as prolonged exposure to loud environments, worsen your hearing loss.
It’s often difficult to self-assess your hearing, since your brain adapts to gradual hearing loss. Things still seem “normal” for you, even as those around you notice the changes.
If you’re getting older and suspect your hearing might not be all that it once was, book an assessment with Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates. If you experience any of these four signs of age-related hearing loss, it’s time to make the call.
Virtually every case of hearing loss is different. It’s not simply as though the volume knob in your brain is turned down. You’re far more likely to lose specific frequencies.
A sign of this is when you’re watching television or listening to music and the overall volume is too loud, but you can’t make out words, details, or dialog if the volume is lower. You might even suspect that your television or stereo is to blame.
Instead, you’ve probably lost hearing in the speech definition range, a narrow band of frequencies that carry the information that define consonants, the “t,” “p,” “b,” “ch,” and other similar sounds that provide clarity.
Once you start losing hearing, your brain uses more resources to process the signals coming from your ears. In some cases, it’s filling in data that you’re missing, while in others, your brain takes information from other senses to fill in the blanks.
Though this isn’t heavy, physical work, it can feel that way later. Simply spending time with people can exhaust you, even if you’re typically a social butterfly. It’s part of the burden of untreated hearing loss.
Apart from the toll it takes on your body, socializing can be more difficult when you’re in a crowded bar or noisy restaurant. It may seem like you hear everything except the voice of the person across the table. Sounds in those speech definition frequencies are easily masked by background noise, which is usually lower in pitch.
Since your brain can’t perceive speech sounds, it tries to sort through the noise to find a priority.
One of the ways your brain uses other senses to compensate for your hearing is to direct your eyes to a person’s mouth when you’re speaking with them. The shape of their mouths as they form words holds clues about the sounds you’re missing. You’re in the formative stages of learning to read lips.
You may come away from conversations with no idea if the person was wearing eyeglasses, but you can describe the shade of their lip gloss. In essence, your eyes become your ears, to a certain extent.
Fortunately, contemporary hearing aids make quick work of presbycusis in many cases. The secret is reaching out for treatment. Contact Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates in Lawrence or Ottawa, Kansas. They’re hearing aid specialists, so you’re in good hands. Call today or send them a message here on the website.