If your senior loved one suffers from hearing loss, the cause will determine which types of hearing loss treatments are necessary for restoring optimal auditory function. An evaluation by an audiologist, or hearing specialist, will determine how extensive the hearing loss is, however, if he or she is unable to pinpoint the exact cause, the senior individual will be referred back to the primary care physician for further evaluation and treatment. Here are some common causes and treatments for your senior loved one's hearing loss.
Viral or bacterial infections of the middle and inner ear can cause muffled hearing in senior citizens. If the infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics will be prescribed. If, however, the infection is related to a virus, antibiotics will not be recommended. Once the infection has been cleared, normal hearing may be restored; however, even after the infection has been treated, lingering fluid inside the ear tubes may still impair hearing.
Once the fluid fully reabsorbs back into the bloodstream, a normal pattern of hearing will be reestablished. Another potential cause of hearing loss in seniors is impacted ear wax. This can significantly reduce hearing acuity because the wax is often deeply embedded inside the ear canal, causing total obstruction.
Your loved one should never try to extract the wax because doing so may push the wax even deeper into the canal, further complicating hearing loss. The physician will gently extract the earwax which will often restore hearing. Other causes for hearing loss in seniors is related to age-related bone conduction problems and diseases of the eardrum.
While antibiotic therapy for bacterial infections and extracting impacted earwax can help improve hearing, your senior loved one may need hearing aids to improve hearing function. Many seniors avoid hearing aids because they believe they are bulky and obvious, however, modern hearing appliances are not even detectable. In rare instances, surgical intervention is needed to restore hearing; however, surgery is typically reserved for problems that are not amenable to conservative treatments.
Dehydration is a common problem in older adults. If senior citizens fail to drink enough water, their hearing may suffer. Water helps improve hearing function by keeping the inside of the ear free from inflammation, debris, and excessive dryness. These three things can raise the risk of infection, which can reduce hearing. While drinking plenty of water is essential to optimal hearing function, seniors should limit their consumption of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and cola because these can cause diminished hearing in certain people.
If your loved one develops hearing problems, make an appointment with an audiologist for an evaluation and treatment option suggestions. The sooner age-related hearing problems are recognized and addressed the less likely the person will be to develop ear infections, embedded earwax, or total hearing loss.