On January 15, 2022, Seniors Today hosted another one of its weekly Health Live webinars and this week we had with us Dr Divya Prabhat who spoke on hearing loss in the elderly.
Dr Divya Prabhat completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies from the the GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai and then worked as Lecturer there for four years. He is trained in ear surgery for deafness from Germany and done Cochlear implant training at the Royal Australian Hospital, Melbourne.
He is the author of four books on ENT of which, ‘Practical ENT’ is in the 31st year of publication. He has 41 published research articles in various national and international journals and is also on the editorial board of four indexed journals. He has delivered over 400 lectures in Conferences/ CMEs etc .
ENT Consultant to the online site : Pediatriconcall.com . He is the section editor and author of the ENT section of the IAP Textbook of Paediatrics, Textbook of Adolescent Medicine, IAP Colour Atlas of Pediatrics and Textbook of Tropical Allergy and Asthma.
He is Head of the ENT department at the Wadia Children Hospital and is Consultant at the Jaslok, Raheja Fortis and Bhatia Hospitals. He has been a guest speaker at the IFOS World Congress of ENT held at Sydney and Cairo and also at AAO – Washington.
He is an examiner for the MBBS, DORL and MS examinations. Dr Prabhat was President of the Association of Otolaryngologists of India (Mumbai 2000) and nominated in Top Doctors from 2013 to 2021 by India Today magazine.
Some of the causes for hearing loss include:
- The most common cause of hearing loss is ageing; which in medical terms is called prebycusis. It is a physiological condition and not a disease.
As we grow older, our hair cells get affected and hence lead to hearing loss. Damage to the hair cells leads to loss transmission of electric impulses to the hearing centre of the brain and no generation of electrical sound inside.
- Noise is a common cause for complete damage to the inner ear. It is a preventable factor.
- Ototoxic drugs and medication. Drugs like aspirin, aminoglycosides are known to cause damage to the ear when taken long term.
Hearing loss can also lead to depression, withdrawal from a social life, anger which develops due to reduced personal safety, definitive cognitive decline and poor health.
The incidence of hearing loss is also high. For individuals between the age of 63-74 one in every 3 individuals is suffering from hearing loss and for people above the age of 75 it is every 2nd person has it.
It is not the patient who complains of hearing loss, it is usually the relatives who bring them.
Seniors who have an affected cochlea also have their balance affected. Some of them also might complain of ringing in the ear, which is called tinnitus.
Pure tone audiometry is done to test the hearing loss.
Elderly people tend to speak loudly, this is because their bone conduction is affected.
Diabetics are more prone to hearing loss.
Hearing aids are a stigma and this leads to individuals not using them as often. This can lead to isolation, distancing and avoiding one to one conversations, etc.
If you use the ear, the nerves do not degenerate, newer pathways can be built. When the ears are not being used, the nerves degenerate and the brain loses its hearing centre and can also lead to dementia.
Hearing loss in the elderly is a painless condition. It does not usually cause pain.
Tinnitus is perception of sound in the absence of an external source/ stimulus. If it is objective tinnitus, it is very much treatable. If it is subjective tinnitus, there are various ways to reduce it to a considerable extent, because there may be a cause such as hyperlipidaemia. Hypercholesterolaemia, hypertension, diabetes etc which can be treated and can also cause tinnitus.
You should get your hearing tested once in a year or once in 2 years if everything is okay and you do not feel the need for it.
Do not use earbuds. Wax is a natural collection. You need to put ear drops in and your ears will be clean. Avoid putting foreign objects in your ear.