1 in 5 Chance
If you’re older than 45 years old, there’s a one in five chance that you suffer from some degree of hearing loss– and that rate climbs steadily as you age. Almost one-third of people ages 65 to 74 report difficulty hearing, and the number rises to about half at 75 years old, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
Hearing loss can wreak havoc with your social life, causing you to avoid activities such as going to restaurants or parties. It can also increase your risk of falling, by impairing your balance. A recent study at Johns Hopkins University has linked untreated hearing loss to a higher risk of developing dementia.
What causes hearing loss
Most cases of hearing loss in adults stem from damage to the inner ear, where tiny hair cells turn sound vibrations into impulses that nerve cells then carry to the brain. The most common causes of that damage are aging and chronic exposure to loud noises. A family history of hearing loss could signal that you’re at increased risk.
A second, easier-to-treat type of hearing loss originates in the middle or outer ear. This could be a reversible problem when caused by such issues as impacted earwax or fluid buildup from an infection.
If you’re experiencing signs of hearing loss (or have been told as much by a concerned family member) talk to your family doctor to refer you for a hearing test.