An Ear to the Ground: The Latest on Hearing Loss and Aging

Senior Citizen Hard of HearingOne of the most common medical conditions that occurs as we grow older is hearing loss. Almost one third of adults over the age of 65 experience some form of it. After the age of 75, that number creeps up to almost 50%. That means nearly 36 million people live with some form of hearing loss. 

What causes hearing loss?

Hearing impairments can range from a mild loss of hearing to a ringing in the ears to a complete loss of hearing. Some types of hearing loss are caused by damage or injury and others come with aging and genetics. 

  • Presbycusis is a type of hearing loss commonly associated with aging. This is typically a gradual decline. Hearing loss in one ear may be worse than another. Heredity is one of the leading causes. Researchers aren’t sure why, but Presbycusis seems to run in families. It can also be caused by high blood pressure, exposure to loud noises, illness or infection. Some medications have been linked to this form of hearing loss. It is considered to be a sensorineural type of hearing impairment. It is generally not reversible because it damages the inner ear and/or the auditory nerve.
  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves are unable to reach the inner ear. The blockage can be caused by a punctured ear drum, earwax build up or fluid in the ear. Medical interventions can usually resolve these types of hearing problems.

Don’t accept hearing loss as a normal part of aging. The latest research at The Johns Hopkins University  shows that those living with hearing loss experience as much as a 30 to 40% faster cognitive decline than those without hearing problems. If the older adult in your life seems to be exhibiting signs of hearing loss, it is important to ask their family physician for a referral to Otolaryngologist. They are the specialists who can best diagnosis what type of loss your loved one has. You can also find one online at American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Inc. (AAO-HNS) (


Are you a Northern Kentucky caregiver? Have you had your loved one’s hearing checked this year?