aging and hearing loss

Topics: Ear, Auditory system, Sound Pages: 6 (1908 words) Published: January 7, 2014
Hearing is one of the traditional five senses, ability to observe sound by detecting vibrations through an organ such as the ear. The sense of hearing is very important because it has helped humans survive. We know what hearing is, but what is hearing loss? Hearing loss happens when there is a problem with one or more parts of the ear or ears. People who have hearing loss might be able to hear some sounds or nothing at all. People also may use the words deaf, deafness and hard of hearing when they are talking about hearing loss.

To understand how hearing loss happens, it helps to know how the ear works. The ear is made up of three different sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. These parts work together that is why we can hear and process sounds. The outer ear picks up sound waves and the waves transfer through the outer ear canal. When the sound waves hit the eardrum in the middle ear, the eardrum starts to vibrate. A hearing problem can develop later in life and connected with getting older which a natural part of the aging process is. There are a few common hearing loss causes such as genetics, loud noises. The main one that comes with aging is Presbycusis is age-related hearing loss. It becomes more common in people as they get older. People with this kind of hearing loss may have a hard time hearing what others are saying or may be unable to stand loud sounds. The decline is slow. Just as hair turns gray at different rates, presbycusis can develop at different rates. It can be caused by sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss results from damage to parts of the inner ear, the auditory nerve, or hearing pathways in the brain. Presbycusis may be caused by aging, loud noise, heredity, head injury, infection, illness, certain prescription drugs, and circulation problems such as high blood pressure. The degree of hearing loss varies from person to person. Also, a person can have a different amount of hearing loss in each ear.

Hearing loss is often overlooked because our hearing is an invisible sense that is always expected to be in action. Yet, there are people everywhere that suffer from the effects of hearing loss. It is important to study and understand all aspects of the many different types and reasons for hearing loss. The loss of this particular sense can be socially debilitating. It can affect the communication skills of the person, not only in receiving information, but also in giving the correct response. This paper focuses primarily on hearing loss in the elderly. One thing that affects older individuals' communication is the difficulty they often experience when recognizing time compressed speech. Time compressed speech involves fast and unclear conversational speech. Many older listeners can detect the sound of the speech being spoken, but it is still unclear (Pichora-Fuller, 2000). In order to help with diagnosis and rehabilitation, we need to understand why speech is unclear even when it is audible. The answer to that question would also help in the development of hearing aids and other communication devices. Also, as we come to understand the reasoning behind this question and as we become more knowledgeable about what older adults can and cannot hear, we can better accommodate them in our day to day interactions.

There are many approaches to the explanation of the elderly's difficulty with rapid speech. Researchers point to a decline in processing speed, a decline in processing brief acoustic cues (Gordon-Salant & Fitzgibbons, 2001), an age-related decline of temporal processing in general (Gordon-Salant & Fitzgibbons, 1999; Vaughan & Letowski, 1997), the fact that both visual and auditory perception change with age (Helfer, 1998), an interference of mechanical function of the ear, possible sensorineural hearing loss due to damage to receptors over time (Scheuerle, 2000), or a decline in the processing of sounds in midbrain (Ochert, 2000). Each one of these...
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