HEARING CHANGES WITH AGING
The ability to hear higher frequencies decreases with
age, with overall hearing declining more quickly in
men than in women. The first signs of loss of hearing
are more commonly noticed by others who are communicating
with the aging person. This may also result in the person
turning the volume up on the television or stereo to
a level that is uncomfortable to others in the room,
yet without perception by the person whose hearing is
Changes In Ear Canal With Age
The ear canal- atrophies, resulting in thin walls and
decreased production of earwax.
Changes In The Eardrum With Age
The eardrum thickens, often appearing dull and white
to the physician.
The middle ear - degenerative changes can develop in
the small joints connecting the bones in the middle
Changes In Inner ear With Age
Significant changes in the inner ear may be due to
excessive noise exposure rather than aging. One could
reasonable expect that there is a generation looming
with a significantly greater hearing loss than our current
Hearing loss for pure tones increases more in men
than women. Higher frequencies become less audible than
lower frequencies. Overall the loss is slightly less
severe in women than it is in men.
Changes in Pitch
Between the ages of 25 and 55, our pitch discrimination
decreases, but after age 55 the decline is steeper.
This is especially true for very high and very low
Combined with this loss in sensitivity is a distortion
of signals that makes the localizing and understanding
of sounds more difficult.
Pitch discrimination plays an important role in our
speech perception. As we age, speech discrimination
declines 5% by the age of 59. Thereafter it deteriorates
rapidly, to more than 25% after the age of 80. When
exposed to loud background noise or indistinct speech,
older people hear less, but at the same time they may
be very sensitive to loud sounds.
NEXT: Changes In Sensory
Function With Aging