Genetic Hearing Loss: Causes & Treatment
It’s natural for hearing to decline as you age, but genetic conditions also lead to hearing loss. If you or someone close to you has noticed changes in your hearing, it could be due to an underlying genetic hearing loss.
Genetic hearing loss is a common condition in the elderly. It has no cure, but you can manage it with appropriate treatment. Moreover, with modern medical technologies, there is much hope for seniors with genetic hearing loss.
Genetic Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can happen naturally as we age (known as presbycusis). However, some people may be more likely to experience impaired hearing due to hereditary hearing loss.
What is Genetic Hearing Loss?
Genetic hearing loss refers to any genetic condition that causes damage to the auditory system. A genetic mutation causes it. The mutation can be passed down from parents to children or develop over time. It can affect one or both ears, and it can be present at birth or develop over time. This is what is known as hereditary hearing loss.
The prevalence of genetic hearing loss in the elderly is higher than you think. You can find it anywhere from 8-10% of people by the age of 60, and this number only increases as we get older. It doesn’t just affect men and women either; it affects everyone equally!
There may be several different mutations that cause hereditary hearing loss. But, all lead to problems with the inner ear (cochlea) and sound-processing areas of the brain.
Genetic Hearing Loss Symptoms in the Elderly
Here are the signs of genetic hearing loss in the elderly:
- Difficulty in understanding speech
- Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
- Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds
- Difficulty hearing low-pitched sounds
- Difficulty hearing sounds in the left or right ear.
What Causes Genetic Hearing Loss?
While there are many causes for this condition, including certain medications or other health conditions, some prevalent underlying factors also cause genetic hearing loss in elderly individuals. One such cause for hereditary hearing loss is an individual’s family history. If one or both parents have a history of any ear canal issues or diseases, like Meniere’s disease (an inner ear disorder), then there is a higher risk that your child will too.
Treatment for Genetic Hearing Loss
Fortunately, modern medicine has made significant strides forward in identifying and addressing hearing loss. Preventing the hearing loss from worsening and improving your listening abilities are key. Options to address genetic hearing loss include:
The recent advances in technology have greatly expanded the range of hearing aid devices and features available on the market today. Bluetooth connectivity, background noise reduction, smart hearing aids and Ear-to-Ear Communication (E2E) are just a few. Explore more about hearing aids here.
Cochlear implants are a surgical intervention, and may not be suitable for everyone. However, these devices can provide excellent results for some people with genetic hearing loss because they bypass parts of the ear damaged by the gene mutation and directly stimulate nerves in the inner ear that send signals to your brain. That is why many people who’ve had cochlear implants say it feels like their brains suddenly “get” what’s being said around them (and often hear better than before).
Trust the Experts at Regional Hearing and Balance Center
With the proper treatment and support, genetic hearing loss can be managed. If you think you may have genetic hearing loss, see your local hearing specialist for a comprehensive hearing assessment.
Do you have any more questions? The hearing care professionals at Regional Hearing and Balance Center would be happy to help. Contact us today to request your appointment with our hearing care professionals.