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Joel Silverman, HAD, BC-HIS
Hearing Loss May Be Different For Women and Men
Sound Hearing Centers
. http://www.soundhearingcenter.com/

Hearing Loss May Be Different For Women and Men

Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is the slowlossofhearingthat occurs as people get older. Tiny hairs inside your ear help you hear. They pick up sound waves and change them into the nerve signals that the brain interprets as sound. Hearing loss occurs when the tiny hairs inside the ear are damaged or die. The hair cells do not regrow, so most hearing loss is permanent.

There is no known single cause for age-related hearing loss. Most commonly, it is caused by changes in the inner ear that occur as you grow older. However, your genes and loud noises (such as from rock concerts or music headphones) may play a large role.

About one in three American adults over the age of 60 suffers from loss of hearing. As Americans get older, hearing problems become more prevalent. Roughly the same number of women and men experience hearing loss; however, new research suggests that there are disparities in high-frequency and low-frequency hearing patterns between men and women.

Sound travels as invisible waves through the air; faster traveling waves cause higher-pitch sounds. Frequency refers to how fast a sound wave travels. For example, an infant's scream is a high-frequency sound whereas the sound of a tuba is a low-frequency sound. In speech, consonants are high frequency, so a high-frequency hearing loss would cause great difficulty in understanding everyday speech. Throughout their lives men tend to get more noise exposure than women and thus have more high frequency loss.

Aging women generally have better high-frequency hearing than men. However, According to new research from the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, women aged 60-90 lose their low-frequency hearing at a faster rate than men.

In general, the loss of lower frequency sounds is where hearing problems emerge for many women. Vowels are low frequency, and the reduced ability to hear these sounds is more prominent in women according to the research.

Hearing perceptions may fluctuate in women during their monthly cycles, so hormones could be playing a role in the hearing differences between women and men. Several studies in human females have examined potential hearing changes associated with hormone replacement therapy, but the results have been inconclusive. More studies are needed to make definitive conclusions.

There are several telltale signs that indicate a person may have a hearing problem. The person may ask someone to speak more slowly or loudly; have difficulty understanding certain words or his/her own speech may become muffled; need to increase the volume on the radio or television in order to hear properly; or may withdraw from social situations or conversations.

Hearing loss should be evaluated as soon as possible to rule out potentially reversible causes such as too much wax in the ear or medication side effects. It is also helpful to have a baselines hearing test so your doctor can note any changes that may occur in the future.

Contact your health care provider immediately if you have a sudden change in your hearing or hearing loss with other symptoms such as headache, vision changes, or dizziness.

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