Is there a link between hearing loss and age?

Ask a person what age they associate with the words ‘hard of hearing’ or ‘hearing aid’, and most people would reply ‘over seventy’. We tend to associate hearing loss with ageing and being ‘elderly’, but that is incorrect. Most people wearing a hearing aid are under 65 years old. Hearing loss is not only caused by wear and tear or ageing, but can also be caused by:


-Hearing damage

-An unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, poor nutrition etc.)

-Ear infections


Is there a difference between the past and now?

Hearing care professionals and audiologists used to apply a scheme indicating at which age a given amount of hearing loss was ‘normal’. They stopped doing so because wear and tear tend to occur at earlier ages nowadays, because our ears are exposed to excessive decibels both more often and at an earlier age. You see more and more children and young people walking down the street wearing headphones or ear buds. Most devices are provided with a limiter, but noise damage (or ‘noise-induced hearing loss’) can also be caused by long-term exposure of your ears to sound. That is why the hearing sector sees increasing numbers of young children who have sustained noise damage. So, there is no link between someone’s age and hearing loss. There are people over 80 years old whose hearing is still good!

Protecting your hearing

It is important to protect your hearing from loud and long-lasting noise. So be sure to use hearing protectors during festivals, parties, visits to the cinema and the like. Also give your ears time to rest – this will enable them to recover, preventing noise damage to your hearing. It’s also important to use hearing protectors if you have already sustained some hearing loss, because even if you have hearing loss, your hearing can still be damaged by noise. Using hearing protectors will not protect you from incurring hearing loss later in life. Protecting your hearing is intended to prevent hearing damage.

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Test your hearing

It’s important to test your hearing every year to determine whether there is any hearing loss and if your hearing remains stable. If you have hearing loss and find it difficult to understand speech, make sure you don’t put off getting a hearing aid for too long. Wearing a hearing aid will provide sufficient stimulus to your auditory nerve, which will prevent your hearing from deteriorating faster.

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By Yvan Karman