Age-related hearing loss is more than just not being able to hear clearly. How can we delay its onset? Have you ever had the experience of repeating yourself when talking to seniors, or hearing them say, "You're speaking too softly; I can't hear you"? This may be a sign of age-related hearing loss.
Statistics show that age-related hearing loss is the second most common condition among the elderly worldwide, and it ranks as the third most prevalent ailment globally. By 2025, as the world's population continues to age, there will be over 1.2 billion people over the age of 60, with more than 500 million of them suffering from age-related hearing loss.
Many seniors tend to dismiss age-related hearing loss as a natural part of aging, but the consequences go beyond simply not being able to hear.
What are the impacts of age-related hearing loss?
Age-related hearing loss can lead to a decline in auditory and speech recognition abilities, making it difficult for seniors to communicate with others and acquire useful information and knowledge. This can affect their social engagement, learning capabilities, as well as their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Age-related hearing loss can cause increased negative emotions and discomfort, making seniors more prone to loneliness, depression, anxiety, fear, and other adverse emotions. These emotions can impact their mental health and overall happiness while also increasing the risk of developing conditions like dementia and depression.
Age-related hearing loss can result in a decline in cognitive functions in the brain, affecting memory, attention, thinking, and judgment capabilities. This can impact their daily lives and decision-making abilities, increasing the likelihood of safety accidents and falls.
What measures can be taken to prevent age-related hearing loss?
While age-related hearing loss is an irreversible form of hearing loss, there are preventive measures that can help delay or mitigate its occurrence and progression. Here are some recommendations for preventing age-related hearing loss:
1. Maintain Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption, as these behaviors can damage the auditory nerve.
Avoid overeating and focus on a diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, while reducing the intake of high-fat and high-cholesterol foods like animal fats and organ meats.
Incorporate foods rich in calcium and vitamin D to improve hearing, and maintain a healthy weight through physical activity to promote circulation and metabolism.
2. Avoid Noise Exposure
Stay away from high-decibel noise sources, such as factories, traffic, and concerts. When exposure to loud noise is necessary, wear suitable earplugs or earmuffs to minimize damage to the inner ear.
When using headphones or hearing amplifiers, keep the volume within a comfortable range, avoiding excessively high or low volumes. Daily use of headphones or hearing amplifiers should not exceed 4 hours.
3. Use Ear-Harmful Medications Cautiously
When using medications with potential toxic effects on the inner ear, follow your doctor's guidance and do not increase the dosage or duration without consultation. Ear-harmful medications can lead to symptoms like hearing loss, tinnitus, and dizziness, as seen with drugs such as erythromycin, kanamycin, and aspirin.
Additionally, regularly check for changes in hearing. If hearing loss or symptoms like tinnitus arise, discontinue medication promptly and seek medical attention.
4. Manage Chronic Diseases
Research indicates that many common age-related diseases can contribute to age-related hearing loss. If you have conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular diseases, adhere to medication schedules and attend regular check-ups to maintain blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipid profiles within normal ranges.
Simultaneously, take measures to prevent infections and immune-related conditions like otitis media, meningitis, and autoimmune ear disorders.
5. Understand Genetic Factors
If there is a history of hearing loss in your family, consult with a medical professional or genetic counselor to assess your risk of hereditary or familial hearing loss.
Consider genetic testing to determine whether you carry related gene variations. Depending on individual circumstances, choose suitable preventive or treatment strategies.
6. Regular Hearing Check-Ups
It is advisable to undergo an annual hearing evaluation to promptly identify hearing changes or abnormalities. If symptoms like hearing loss, tinnitus, or dizziness occur, seek immediate medical attention to determine the cause and take appropriate measures.
If the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants is necessary, select the right models and settings under the guidance of a medical professional, and maintain them with regular adjustments and maintenance.
Age-related hearing loss is not just a matter of hearing. It can also affect seniors' cognition, emotions, and social functions, ultimately reducing their quality of life. Therefore, we should prioritize the hearing health of the elderly and take effective prevention measures to delay or mitigate age-related hearing loss. At the same time, let's provide seniors with more care and support to help them adapt to the changes brought about by hearing loss and enjoy a happy and fulfilling later life.