One of the major causes of hearing loss is ageing. Hearing loss is a natural consequence of getting older. As you get older, the hair cells in your inner ear begin to die and when more and more hair cells die our hearing gets worse and worse. This happens to all of us and we all begin to lose our hearing when we are in our 30's and 40's.
Some people lose their hearing and get an age-related hearing loss earlier and faster than others. Around the age of 50, we see that more and more people get age-related hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is especially common among people in their 60's and 70's. Age-related hearing loss is also called Presbyacusis. The treatment for age-related hearing loss is always hearing aids.
Age-related hearing loss and GPs
A study has shown that Australian GPs only play a minor role when it comes to identifying age-related hearing loss. Australian researchers have found that the levels of identification and management of hearing loss by GPs in Australia are relatively low and there appear to be relatively few cases in which hearing loss is identified opportunistically.
Data from one former study showed that only about 3 out of 1000 GP consultations with patients above the age of 50 involved management of age-related hearing loss.
A study suggests that musical training from an early age could account for why older musicians have better hearing than non-musicians. An American scientist has shown that the brain can be trained to overcome some age-related hearing loss and that people, for whom music has been a part of their life since childhood, had an advantage when distinguishing one consonant from another.
Folate may reduce hearing loss
Surveys indicate that folate may benefit your hearing. Low blood-levels of folate are associated with a 35% increased risk of hearing loss, according to a study from Australia. Folate is the natural source of vitamin B9. This study supports the link between B-vitamins and hearing.
Researchers at the University of Sydney have examined blood levels of folate, vitamin B12, and homocysteine and correlated this with the risk of age-related hearing loss.
In 2009, researchers revealed that men over the age of 60 with high folate intake from foods and supplements had a 20% decrease in the risk of developing hearing loss.
In 2007, in a study of 728 men and women between the ages of 50 and 70, scientists reported that folic acid supplements delayed age-related hearing loss in the low-frequency region.
Calorie restriction may also delay age-related hearing loss. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US have succeeded in delaying age-related hearing loss in mice by restricting their intake of calories.
Experiments with mice have shown that a 25% reduction in calories activated a single enzyme, Sirt3, which helped preserve hearing. Although the diet delayed hearing loss at various frequencies in the normal mice, it did not work at all in the mice lacking Sirt3.