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It is not uncommon to lose some of the ability to hear, especially high-pitched tones of speech, as a sign of age-related hearing impairment. The official term is presbycusis, and this is one of the most common conditions of older adults. It can have a major effect on quality of life, as it affects social interactions. It affects about 31% of adults over age 65 and 75% over age 85.
The cause is often due to changes in the inner ear (cochlea), where tiny hairs pick up sound waves and transform them into nerve impulses that the brain interprets as speech, a car horn, or a ringing bell. These tiny cells can die with age or are damaged by excessive positive sound waves, such as loud music or sounds.
There is a relationship to family history and cardiovascular health, where blood flow to the inner ear can become deficient. Often, medications - antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs (Platinol)- can damage inner ear sound perception.
Losing your hearing can affect your social relationships with family and friends, in business, and in your social life. It has the potential to be an isolating experience.
Hearing loss is commonly accompanied by the loss of balance. The loss of balance jeopardizes the affected person because it increases the risk of falls and injuries.
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