Hearing care professionals are often asked "how can I prevent losing my hearing when I get older"?
Whether weakened by genes, free radicals, environmental factors or other, as yet undiscovered causes, our inner ears are affected by the aging process in much the same way as other organs and our hearing abilities are affected. Hearing loss as a result of aging, is referred to as presbycusis and consists of a gradual and progressive hearing loss that starts in midlife and continues to increase as years go by. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), about one in three U.S. adults between the ages of 65 and 75 have hearing loss. The NIDCD further estimates that about half of people 75 and older have some degree of hearing loss as well.
So unfortunately when it comes to the aging process and aging ears much is out of our control. However, as mentioned environmental factors can influence hearing loss throughout a lifetime. Environmental factors affecting hearing may include noise exposure, overall medical health, medical treatments, smoking and others. Although we can't control the affect of genes, normal wear & tear of the body and free radicals - we can control environmental factors.
When you are exposed to loud sounds, be it at a concert or simply mowing the lawn, wear hearing protection. Protecting your hearing (even when you have normal healthy hearing) will help to prevent hearing loss later in life. A healthy lifestyle will ensure overall positive health - which has been shown to have a correlation with healthy hearing. If you are a smoker - consider quitting. Studies have shown a strong correlation to tobacco use and hearing loss.
Discuss your concerns and risk factors for hearing loss with your physician or hearing health professional. Practice healthy hearing throughout a lifetime and you may just be able to reduce the affects of aging on your ears to some degree.