At What Age Do Most People Begin to Lose Their Hearing?

Most adults slowly begin to lose their hearing when they reach their 40’s, although hearing loss is hardly noticeable in its earliest stages. Beginning with an inability to detect noises at the higher frequencies, hearing loss then progresses to affect sounds throughout the spectrum, until there is some degree of loss across all frequencies. Another symptom of age-related hearing loss may be manifested when you begin to have difficulty hearing people in environments where there is a good deal of background noise, for instance at parties.

Of course, it is entirely possible to suffer some level of hearing loss at any other age, especially if you’ve been exposed to loud sounds, either something like an explosion, or some loud sound which you’ve been subjected to for a prolonged period, such as rock music. Ear infections can also have an impact on hearing loss, especially if they’re not treated promptly at an early age, so whenever your children develop ear infections they should be addressed at the earliest opportunity.

How Hearing Loss Occurs With Age

One of the most common reasons that people begin to experience hearing loss as they age is that the tiny hair cells which grow inside your inner ear become damaged or die off altogether. These hair cells convert sound waves into nerve signals which get forwarded to the brain, where they are interpreted as sounds. When these hair cells die off, they are not replaced and they do not grow back, so hearing loss caused by damaged or dying hair cells is irreversible.

There are also some other factors which contribute to age-related hearing loss, starting with your family history, because hearing loss does have a tendency to recur within families. If you have been exposed to loud noises repeatedly throughout your lifetime, for instance in a factory setting or from being exposed to rock music, that can also promote loss of hearing.

In a way that is not generally understood, smoking can also lead to advanced hearing loss at an earlier age. Some medical conditions such as diabetes can also contribute heavily to hearing loss, and so can some specific medications, for instance chemotherapy drugs used for cancer patients.

In some cases, people can experience age-related hearing loss as a result of some abnormality of the middle ear or the outer ear. When these abnormalities occur, they are accompanied by a reduced functionality of the tympanic membrane, such as in the eardrum, or reduced functionality of the three tiny bones which are situated in the middle ear, and carry sound waves from the eardrum to the inner ear. This however, is an unusual situation and most people who experience hearing loss have a combination of noise-induced hearing loss and age-related hearing loss.

What Age Do Men Lose Their Hearing?

Men between the ages of 20 and 69 are more than twice as likely to experience hearing loss than women of that same age are. One reason for the significant difference is that a higher percentage of men are in occupations where they are exposed to greater noise levels for long periods of time. For instance, firefighters and construction workers are subjected to loud noises for extended periods of time, and that means there is a higher percentage of hearing loss among individuals working in these fields.

Surprisingly, statistics bear out the fact that men who use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, or acetaminophen, are 33% more likely to undergo hearing loss than are men who don’t take these drugs. Men and women experience hearing loss in different ways, with men having difficulty hearing higher frequencies and women having difficulty hearing lower frequencies.

In effect, this means that men will have more difficulty hearing consonants in words, whereas women will have a more difficult time understanding vowels. Even though males are at a greater risk for experiencing hearing loss, more women are predisposed to some of the conditions which can result from undergoing hearing loss. One good example of this is when hearing loss is left untreated and results in depression, which generally affects more women than men.

What Age Do Women Lose Their Hearing?

Given the fact that men and women begin life with the same level of hearing, it stands to reason that behavioral differences must account for at least part of the reason that men experience hearing loss earlier and more significantly than women do. There are other factors which contribute to hearing loss in women at a greater rate than would be experienced by males, specifically certain medical conditions affecting females.

Women who experience low-frequency hearing loss are at greater risk for cardiovascular events such as stroke or heart attack. Women who are treated for breast cancer with chemotherapy drugs will often develop hearing loss as a result, because many chemotherapy drugs are toxic to the tiny hair cells of the inner ear, which are responsible for hearing.

Females who have osteoporosis are 76% more likely to develop hearing loss than are any other group of individuals, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Women are also subject to autoimmune diseases at a greater rate than are men, and some of these autoimmune diseases have a strong correlation with hearing loss.

The bottom line on hearing loss in women is that women between the ages of 40 and 70 are exposed to more medical conditions which can cause hearing loss than men are, and this more than makes up for the relative immunity women have from occupational-related hearing loss. Both men and women are exposed to hearing loss as they age, and although it happens more often with males, eventually everyone will experience some degree of hearing loss.

Get Help With Your Hearing Loss

If you think that you’re beginning to experience age-related hearing loss, you should come visit us at Harbor Audiology. We can test your hearing at all frequencies, so you’ll know where you stand, and if a hearing aid devices will improve your hearing and your quality of life, we can recommend a high-quality device which will not intrude on your daily life or activities. Contact us at Harbor Audiology for your initial consultation, so we can begin the process of improving your hearing.

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