Hearing loss and ageing do not necessarily need to go hand in hand

Hearing difficulties are often undervalued and regarded as a natural phenomena associated with the ageing process. Although in the elderly, loss of hearing is called presbycusis. Due to the restrictions it imposes, loss of hearing significantly diminishes the quality of life of an individual when relating with others, creating a silent cycle of isolation, embarrassment and insecurity.

Due to the many possibilities that exist today as far as prosthetics are concerned, this process is today easily avoidable. Hearing rehabilitation has become increasingly simple, functional and affordable.

The process of ageing causes numerous changes to the auditory system: among others are important changes which take place in the cells, accumulation of inactive enzymes, membrane receptors that become inactive, progressive loss of sensory epithelium function and of the cochlea (components of the inner ear, which transform sound waves into electrical impulses and sends them to the brain where they are decoded and interpreted).

Hearing loss normally occurs in both ears. It is a slow, progressive and bilateral process. Initially, alterations are not detected during a normal conversation, as speech frequency (500 to 2000 Hz) is not affected.

Gradually people suffering from hearing loss have difficulty in identifying certain words containing consonants and consequently have difficulty following a conversation. This may lead to isolation, social rejection and depression.

Due to the fact that people view hearing loss as a natural consequence associated with age, they do not seek help immediately and gradually lose the ability to perceive that they are becoming deaf.

Some very simple questions can help one to understand whether the time has come to seek help:

▪ Do you have difficulty in hearing the telephone ring?
▪ Do you feel that perhaps you can hear better from one rather than from the other ear?
▪ Do people complain that the volume on your TV is too high?
▪ Do you have difficulty in following a conversation when two or more people are present?
▪ Do you have difficulty in hearing when in a noisy atmosphere (restaurant, cafes or shopping centres)?
▪ Do you have difficulty in hearing when attending meetings or social events (lectures or speeches)?
▪ Have you ever felt dizziness, pain or ringing in the ears?
▪ Have your family or friends complained that you do not follow what is being said?
▪ During a conversation, are you left with the feeling that some people whisper (or do not speak clearly)?
▪ Do you have difficulty in understanding what is being said and respond inappropriately?

If your answer was ‘yes’ to two or more questions, perhaps it is time to schedule an appointment for a screening. It is estimated that hearing loss affects 25% of the population aged between 65 and 75, and approximately 40% of people over the age of 75. These figures do not need to be decisive. One can alter these at any time improving one’s quality of life, autonomy and functionality.

The Hospital Particular do Algarve, in partnership with Widex (world leader in high definition hearing aids) has been offering a new facility since August this year at their hospital in Gambelas as well as at the Clínica Particular do Algarve at AlgarveShopping in Guia.

This centre is dedicated specifically to hearing rehabilitation and is able to detect problems related to hearing loss, offering ongoing screenings and free advice, in order to reach a positive solution for the patient.

Silence is not golden! Book your screening today.