Even though it may be tempting to blame your declining hearing ability on aging alone, there is more to the equation than that. Although scientists do not entirely understand the exact causes of the condition, many factors are likely to contribute to the hearing loss we encounter as we age. They aren't sure if the problem is in the inner ear, middle ear or in the outer ear.
Doctors believe that presbycusis is caused by a combination of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors. Many experts associate the development of age-related hearing loss with changes in the inner ear. In the inner ear is where sound waves are converted to nerve impulses.
The loss of nerve hair cells in the Cochlea is often named as the primary cause of your condition. The Cochlea is the organ that senses sound. The cochlear nerve's (also called auditory nerve) job is to carry auditory sensory information from the cochlea directly to the brain. A lifetime of exposure to noise can damage these sensitive nerve hair cells.
Other theories suggest that instead of the inner ear, changes in the eardrum are at the root of the problem. These are all theories, not proven facts. The truth is, the medical community is unsure of the exact cause. Most likely, it is the combination of various factors that create the hearing loss as we get older.
Genes likely play a role too. A family history of presbycusis may increase your risks. Environmental and lifestyle factors have also been associated with age-related hearing loss.
You should never listen to music through headsets on high volume because long-term exposure to loud noise is very damaging to your auditory system. Smoking and exposure to heavy metals such as mercury or lead can also damage your ears. Certain medications can be toxic to the cells in your inner ear and cause hearing loss.
If you think that your hearing has gradually gotten worse over the years, the best thing to do is to get your hearing checked. You can do that by making an appointment to see a hearing health professional, such as an audiologist.
Based on your hearing test results, your audiologist will be able to determine the extent of the damage in each ear. Your hearing professional can work with you to recommend the best treatment options for you. Hearing aids have been used with great success as a solution for age-associated hearing loss. You will be able to ask questions about the various options and discuss the benefits of getting a hearing device.