Managing Age-Related Hearing Loss: How to Use Hearing Aids Efficiently
Hearing loss is a common condition that can affect anyone at any age. While it’s normal to experience some hearing loss as you get older, this doesn’t mean that you have to stop enjoying life. In fact, many older adults find that their hearing aids make life easier and more enjoyable. The key is finding the right style of hearing aid and learning how to use it effectively so you can get back to doing things you love!
What is Age-related Hearing Loss?
The most common type of hearing loss is age-related hearing loss (ARHL). Age-related hearing loss is caused by a slow decline in the ability to hear sounds at high frequencies.
As we get older, our ears become less sensitive to high-frequency sounds. This happens as part of the normal aging process and affects everyone to some degree.
The amount of age-related hearing loss varies from person to person and can range from mild to severe.
Some people may have trouble understanding speech when there is background noise or if they’re in a crowded room. Others may not notice their own hearing loss until they speak with someone else who points out that they mumble or that they don’t hear well when others talk very loudly.
What Causes Age-related Hearing Loss
Age-related hearing loss is a gradual reduction in the ability to hear high frequencies.
As you age, you lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds first. This condition is called presbycusis. It occurs because of damage to the hair cells (sensory cells) in your inner ear, which are responsible for detecting sound waves and converting them into electrical signals that travel to the brain.
The hair cells do not regenerate or repair themselves once they’re damaged. As a result, as you get older, you lose more and more of your ability to hear higher frequencies — often before you know it’s happening.
At the same time, one of the most common causes of general hearing loss is noise damage. This can be a result of long-term exposure to loud sounds, such as at work or while using personal electronic devices.
Other causes of hearing loss can include:
- Ototoxic medications – These medications damage the hair cells in the cochlea. They include antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, among others.
- Genetic conditions – Genetic conditions that cause deafness include Usher syndrome and Waardenburg syndrome. In both of these conditions, there’s a mutation in the gene for a protein called connexin 26 (CX26). CX26 helps transmit electrical signals from one cell to another in the inner ear.
- Infections – Viral infections like mumps and measles can cause temporary hearing loss in adults.
How to Prevent or Manage Age-related Hearing Loss
1. Identify And Check For Hearing Issues
Hearing loss is a common problem, especially among older adults. It can occur gradually or suddenly, and it can be temporary or permanent. There are many reasons why you might find yourself struggling to hear what someone is saying—including age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, disease or infection, earwax buildup in your ears, injury to the ear canal, and more.
But if you have trouble hearing in noisy situations, or if family members or friends tell you that your hearing has changed, see a doctor as soon as possible. Early treatment and diagnosis can help prevent further hearing loss and improve your quality of life. Hence, the first step in the hearing loss process is to identify that you have a hearing problem. Only then can you decide if hearing aids are right for you.
The following are some signs that you may need to take more serious steps:
- You have trouble understanding others when they speak in normal tones of voice.
- You have difficulty hearing in noisy situations (like restaurants).
- You are having trouble hearing over the phone or on video calls.
2. Choose the Right Style of Hearing Aids
There are many different types of hearing aids that can be used to help you hear better. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to discuss with your audiologist which type would be best for you.
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are the most common type of hearing aids Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are small devices that fit behind the ear. They are placed in a case and attached to the ear by a plastic tube or other devices. The case is also used to hold batteries or other electronic components. The case must be worn behind the ear and may be visible if it is not concealed by hair or clothing.
They can be custom-fitted to each patient’s ears and are attached by a plastic or silicone band that goes over the top or around the back of the ear.
BTEs are easy to use and maintain; you don’t need to take them out of your ears at night or when showering or swimming. They’re also small enough that you can wear them with glasses, hats, or headbands without any trouble.
- In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are a great choice for those who have mild to moderate hearing loss. These lightweight, discreet devices sit in the outer ear and are held in place by a custom-made earmold. They come with several different-sized ear tips to ensure a comfortable fit. Although they’re not as small as other options, in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids still have the smallest profile on the market.
- In-canal hearing aids
In-canal hearing aids — also known as custom or invisible earplugs — are small, customized devices inserted into the opening of your ear canal. They help bring in sound from the outside world and amplify it for your inner ear.
3. Use Your Hearing Aids Effectively
If you have hearing loss and you’re considering hearing aids, it’s important to know how to use them correctly. Using hearing aids properly is not only a matter of comfort — it can also improve your ability to understand speech and make it easier for other people to understand you. Hence, here are some tips for using hearing aids effectively:
- Wear hearing aids at all times. Hearing aids amplify sound. If you don’t wear your hearing aids, you won’t hear much at all.
- Keep them clean. Use the cleaning brush supplied by your audiologist to keep the battery chamber and the tip of the hearing aid free from debris.
- Adjust them properly. Hearing aid use is different for each person and depends on their specific needs. Your audiologist can help you determine what adjustments are best for you.
- Check battery life regularly. Make sure that your batteries are working properly before leaving home to go out in public or attend an event. Most hearing aids come with a battery tester so that you can see how much battery life remains before inserting new ones into your device.
Age-related hearing loss is a very common condition, but it doesn’t have to be something that you just accept and live with. There are many steps that you can take to improve your hearing, including getting tested by a professional and using hearing aids as needed. If you want more information on this topic, make sure to contact us for further details!