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HEARING CHANGES WITH AGING

 

Hearing Loss

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 declining.

Hearing Support Devices

 

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 ear.

 

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 aging population.

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.

Hearing Loss With Age

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 frequencies.

Distortion

Combined with this loss in sensitivity is a distortion of signals that makes the localizing and understanding of sounds more difficult.

Speech Discrimination

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


 

 
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