Hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age (presbycusis) is common. About 25 percent of people in the United States between the ages of 55 and 64 have some degree of hearing loss. For those older than 65, the number of people with some hearing loss is almost 1 in 2.
You can't reverse most types of hearing loss. However, you don't have to live in a world of muted, less distinct sounds. You and your doctor or a hearing specialist can take steps to improve what you hear.
Signs and symptoms of hearing loss may include:
• Muffling of speech and other sounds;
• difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people;
• trouble hearing consonants;
• frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly;
• needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio;
• withdrawal from conversations;
• avoidance of some social settings.
Factors that may damage or lead to loss of the hairs and nerve cells in your inner ear include:
• Degeneration of delicate inner ear structures occurs over time as we age.
• Exposure to loud sounds can damage the cells of your inner ear.
• Your genetic makeup may make you more susceptible to ear damage from sound or deterioration from aging.
• Jobs where loud noise is a regular part of the working environment.
• Exposure to loud noises, such as from firearms and jet engines, snowmobiling, motorcycling or listening to loud music.
• Some illnesses that result in high fever, as well as some drugs can cause temporary to permanent hearing loss.
Hearing loss can have a significant effect on your quality of life. Among older adults with hearing loss, commonly reported problems include depression, anxiety and an often false sense that others are angry with you.
Unfortunately, most people affected by hearing loss live with these difficulties for years before seeking treatment — or never seek treatment at all. This may also cause lasting problems for those who love you, if you try to cope by denying your hearing loss or withdrawing from social interactions.
When to see a doctor
If you have a sudden loss of hearing, particularly in one ear, seek immediate medical attention.
Talk to your doctor if difficulty hearing is interfering with your daily life.
Your hearing may have deteriorated if:
• You find that it's harder to understand everything that's said in conversation, especially when there's background noise;
• sounds seem muffled;
• you find yourself having to turn the volume higher when you listen to music, the radio or television.
Senior center weekly activities
Thursday: Closed due to building maintenance. FCCA meeting will meet at the Transit Center at 2:30 p.m.
Friday: Line Dancing, 8:30 a.m.; a nurse from St. Catherine Hospital is here from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.; music by Al White, 11:45 a.m.; Enhance Fitness, 1 p.m.; Learn to Play Qwirkle, 1 p.m.; Bridge, 1:15 p.m.
Saturday: Pool room is open from 1 to 4 p.m.
Sunday: Duplicate bridge, 2 p.m.
Monday: Double Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.; Enhance Fitness, 1 p.m.; strength training, 4 p.m.; Zumba, 6 p.m.; Duplicate Bridge, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: Men’s coffee, 10:30 p.m.; Pitch, 12:30 p.m.; Bridge, 1:15 p.m.; PIYO, 5:30 p.m.; Yoga, 6 p.m.
Nov. 21: Line dancing, 8:30 a.m.; Completely Unraveled, 9:30 a.m.; Senior Center and the Transit Department will close at 1 p.m.
Thursday, Closed due to building maintenance
Friday: Beef & Noodles, broccoli, corn muffin, fruit
Monday: Swedish meatballs over rice, corn, chocolate cake
Tuesday: Tater tot casserole, mixed vegetables, corn muffin, fruit
Nov. 21: Roasted turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes/gravy, green beans, cookie
Patti Thummel is the interim executive director of the Senior Center of Finney County and director of Meals on Wheels.