Is hearing loss an inevitable part of aging?

Photo credit: Magda Ehlers from Pexels

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Is hearing loss an inevitable part of aging? I came to the conclusion that it isn’t in 2017 and presented that paper at the 12th Congress of the International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise in Zurich, Switzerland.

Four years later, I’m much more certain of my conclusion that hearing loss isn’t part of normal aging. The research confirmation was provided by research done at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary published in 2020. That paper still used what I consider to be an outmoded term, age-related hearing loss, because the research actually concluded–as I did–that most hearing loss in old age is noise-induced hearing loss. That’s what I say very clearly in a paper just published in January 2022 issue of The Hearing Journal, the leading publication for hearing healthcare professionals.

As I wrote. a good analogy for the effect of noise on the ear is the effect of sun (or ultraviolet light) on the skin. Both forms of energy damage tissue. Without sun exposure, the skin remains smooth and unblemished. Without noise exposure, hearing is preserved into old age.

According to the CDC, noise-induced hearing loss is the only type of hearing loss that is 100% preventable. Prevention of noise-induced hearing loss is simple. Avoid noise exposure, or use hearing protection if you can’t avoid the exposure, and your ears will last a lifetime.


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