What Is Age-Related Hearing Loss?
As we age, we experience natural changes to our bodies. Hearing loss can be one of these changes. Hearing loss is not always preventable, and age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is something nearly 50 percent of people over age 65 experience. Whether you are already experiencing hearing loss or are trying to prevent it, here is what you need to know.
Age-related hearing loss does not occur suddenly, but rather gradually and can be caused by several changes in the inner ear, including:
- changes in the structures of the inner ear
- changes in blood flow to the ear
- impairment in the nerves responsible for hearing
- changes in the way that the brain processes speech and sound
- damage to the tiny hairs in the ear that are responsible for transmitting sound to the brain
Age-related hearing loss can also be caused by other issues. These include:
- poor circulation
- exposure to loud noises
- use of certain medications
- family history of hearing loss
Symptoms can vary, and you might not experience all of them. You may find it difficult to hear background noises, high-pitched sounds or other’s voices clearly. Here are some symptoms you might experience:
- You have trouble hearing while on the telephone
- You can’t seem to follow a conversation if there is background noise
- You struggle to understand women’s or children’s voices
- People complain that you turn up the TV volume too high
- You constantly ask people to repeat themselves
- You have a long history of working around loud noises
- You notice a ringing, hissing, or roaring sound in your ears
If you experience symptoms of hearing loss, see your doctor. After a physical exam to rule out other possible causes, they might refer to an audiologist, or hearing specialist, who can perform a hearing test to help determine how much hearing loss has occurred.
Unfortunately, you cannot reverse hearing loss. If you are diagnosed, there are ways to improve your hearing, as recommended by your doctor. Some of these ways include:
- hearing aids to help you hear better
- assistive devices, such as telephone amplifiers
- lessons in sign language or lip reading (for severe hearing loss)
While original Medicare, Part A and Part B do not cover hearing aids, routine hearing exams or fittings for hearing aids, some Medicare Advantage plans cover some aspects of hearing loss, including hearing tests and hearing aids.
Currently, scientists do not have a proven way to prevent age-related hearing loss. However, you can protect yourself from it by protecting your ears in the following ways, which can limit the amount of hearing you may lose as you get older:
- Minimize your exposure to loud noises that are persistent
- Never listen to music through headphones or ear buds with the volume all the way up
- Wear ear plugs or protective earmuffs during any activity that exposes you to noise at or above 85 decibels
- See your doctor about a baseline hearing test, called an audiogram, to find out if you already have some early hearing loss
If you think you or a loved one might be suffering from age-related hearing loss, contact your doctor for more information.
If you have been diagnosed with age-related hearing loss and would like to review details about the treatment options your Medicare plan covers, reach out to the RetireMED®iQ Client Services Team at 1-877-222-1942 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not currently a RetireMED®iQ client and are curious about your coverage options, please contact us at 1-866-600-5638 or email@example.com to schedule an appointment with one of our trusted advisors.