Does Hearing Loss Get Worse Over Time?
While hearing loss is often considered to be a normal part of aging, you most likely have concerns about how it progresses and what you can expect.
By explaining how hearing loss advances with age, what to do to slow the progress, and answering some FAQs, our hearing specialists hope to help you better understand the changes you will experience over time.
What Types of Hearing Loss Get Worse Over Time?
Progressive hearing loss begins as mild before becoming severe. There are two types of hearing loss considered progressive:
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by noise, diseases, or age which damage or lead to the loss of tiny hair cells in the inner ear. It usually develops gradually and worsens with time. Because of this, you may not realize that your hearing ability has deteriorated.
Some common symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss include difficulty hearing high-pitched or soft sounds, difficulty hearing in places with background noises, challenges understanding speech on the radio or TV, and needing people to repeat themselves often.
Sudden Hearing Loss
Sudden deafness is an abrupt and unexplained loss of hearing, commonly in one ear though it may occur in both. It often progresses if left untreated.
When you experience this type of hearing loss, it is important to visit a hearing clinic and schedule a test. This will help identify the reason behind your symptoms and identify the best course of treatment if required.
If you already use hearing aids or implants and experience sudden hearing loss, talk to your hearing specialist, and inform them that your symptoms are getting worse.
How Fast Will Hearing Loss Progress?
When hearing loss occurs, the first frequencies to get weaker are the high frequencies. You may not notice it at first, as it often progresses gradually.
Other factors that may accelerate hearing loss include:
- Noise – Hearing loss occurs after about ten years of exposure to noise
- Diabetes – It poses a 30% higher rate of hearing loss.
- Heart Disease– It may reduce blood flow to the ears, damaging some parts of the auditory system.
How Can I Slow the Progression of Hearing Loss?
Here are some easy-to-do things that help prevent your hearing ability from becoming worse:
- Avoid loud noises
- Quit smoking
- Control your blood sugar levels
- Have your hearing regularly tested even if you feel that you can hear well
- Seek treatment for any health conditions
Can Hearing Aids Prevent Further Hearing Loss?
Hearing aids do not affect the sensory advancement of hearing loss. However, if your hearing loss is not corrected, the damaged hairs in your ear may die and not grow back. The auditory cortex of your brain tasked with processing sound also shrinks, similar to unused muscles, deteriorating your hearing further.
The activity of the nerves that transmit sound waves to the brain for processing is restored by wearing a hearing aid. They strengthen over time, and some people discover that they may be able to reduce the amount of amplification in their hearing aids.
Common Questions Related to Progressive Hearing Loss
Why Do Older People Have Worse Hearing?
Hearing loss is a part of ageing. Diseases that commonly affect older people, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, impact the hearing as well. Additionally, prolonged noise exposure also contributes to the increased prevalence of hearing loss in adults. Some prescriptions used to treat these diseases may also cause hearing loss.
Can Hearing Aids Slow Age-Related Hearing Loss?
Unfortunately, hearing aids do not slow the progression of age-related hearing loss. Similar to wearing eyeglasses, your ears will need hearing aids to work their best.
Although your hearing may still deteriorate over time, regular visits to your hearing specialist ensure that your hearing aids are adjusted appropriately.
What Should I Do If My Hearing Gets Worse?
If your hearing loss becomes severe, there are a variety of hearing aids that can be used. Additionally, there are stronger devices that may be recommended.
Can Hearing Aids Keep Up with The Progression of Hearing Loss?
Your hearing specialist will help you select hearing aids that should last you at least five to six years. After this, or if your hearing was to get worse, new and more powerful devices may be recommended.
Visit Our Hearing Clinic in Toronto for Expert Advice
If you have any concerns about your hearing, call and talk to the specialists at Bravo Hearing Centre to book an appointment for a hearing test or consultation. You can also take our online hearing test to get an overview of your hearing health.