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Sixteen percent of adults suffer from hearing loss great enough to adversely affect their daily life. We all lose some of our hearing as we age, but some lose more of their hearing than others. A hearing loss occurs when the ear’s ability to conduct sound from the outer ear, through the middle ear into the inner ear and further into the brain is damaged or reduced.
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Sensory presbycusis: This refers to epithelial atrophy with loss of sensory hair cells and supporting cells in the organ of Corti.
Mechanical (ie, cochlear conductive) presbycusis: This condition results from thickening and secondary stiffening of the basilar membrane of the cochlea. The rest of my answer is based on this book, some parts of which exist online (which I'll quote).
As you can see from the graph, severity of age-related hearing loss depends on sound frequency: older people need high-pitched sounds to be displayed more loudly, in order to hear them. It's not described much on the website, but the book explains that there is a relationship between how loud a sound has to be to harm you, and which frequency it is. Here's a plot of the connection between loudness and frequency in auditory perception, in which you can see that sounds around 4kHz can most easily harm us.
Does this explain that when I was younger, I was more sensitive to sound and slept less well?
Not the answer you're looking for?Browse other questions tagged medical-science or ask your own question. Early detection of hearing loss and immediate intervention for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are imperatives for their cognitive, social, and vocational well-being.
The following brief review highlights the literature reports of hearing findings for children with DS and adults with ID residing in institutional settings. Other studies have discussed the hearing status of adults with ID residing in institutional settings, reporting rates of hearing loss ranging from 21% to 70%.
With the above as background information, let's now review the recently reported study of hearing outcome findings of 9,961 non-institutionalized individuals with ID (Herer, 2012).
The hearing examination protocol for this study included ear canal examinations, otoacoustic emissions (OAE) screening, pure tone screening at 25 dB for 2,000 Hz and 4,000 Hz using air-conduction earphones, and tympanometry screening.
The outcome results for the 9,961 individuals with ID were gathered at seven Special Olympics (SO) sports events from 2004 through 2011. Further, Table 1 reveals that the overall prevalence rate of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) for people with ID across the seven SO events was 12.8%, a rate greater than expected in the general population 18–55 years of age. Finally, information about ear canal health problems of adults with ID needs to be highlighted in this essay.
The prevalence of hearing loss for adults with ID is much higher than for persons in the general population.
Hearing loss occurs much earlier in age for adults with ID than those in the general population. The high prevalence of ear wax in the entire study population with ID emphasizes the need for ear canal examinations on a regular basis for all persons with ID. The present study could not differentiate results for adults with DS from those with ID not a result of DS.
The data reported in Table 1 for international events in years 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 were not examined by country of origin for the participants at these events. The degree of ID for the adults in the 2012 report was not determined; although it was hypothesized as being mostly mild, based on observation of their social behavior at the sports events in which they participated.
Data were not available for the present study participants concerning the following characteristics: gender, race, ethnicity, noise exposure, smoking experiences, cardiac status, diabetes, or medication usage.
The ASHA Action Center welcomes questions and requests for information from members and non-members.
The implications differ from person to person, but most people with hearing impairment suffer some social, psychological and physical problems as a result of their hearing loss.
Another common reason for hearing loss is exposure to noise, but it can also occur as a result of disease, infections or drugs. The most common categories of hearing loss classifications are mild, moderate, severe and profound hearing loss.
If the ear’s ability to conduct sound into the inner ear is blocked or reduced, it is a conductive hearing loss. Hearing loss in smaller children is normally caused by genetic factors, physical abnormalities in the ear or it might be caused by certain diseases. Characteristically, presbycusis involves bilateral high-frequency hearing loss associated with difficulty in speech discrimination and central auditory processing of information.
This process originates in the basal turn of the cochlea and slowly progresses toward the apex. The thickening is more severe in the basal turn of the cochlea where the basilar membrane is narrow. The question is being unable to hear ranges as we get older, starting from childhood, while presbycusis is specific to post middle-aged people.
Sounds that are near our auditory thresholds (under 20 Hz and above 20.000 Hz in the normal, healthy hearing range) can't harm us even if they are extremely loud. The professional literature reports increased prevalence of hearing loss for people with ID compared to their general-population peers. This review provides a framework for understanding the hearing status of adults with ID living in general-community environments as reported in this essay. These rates varied with age, with individuals younger than age 40 showing lower rates compared with older persons with ID; and those without DS exhibiting lower rates compared with those with DS. One noteworthy and comprehensive investigation (Meuwese-Jongejeugd et al., 2006) in The Netherlands of 1,598 individuals ages 18–70 found an overall prevalence rate for hearing loss of 36%.
These adults, 18–55 years of age, participated in sports competition events globally over the past decade sponsored by Special Olympics International. As seen in Table 1, there were strong similarities and some differences for outcomes among these events.

The degrees of loss are much the same for the bilateral and unilateral ear conditions as well. The results of Figures 1 and 2 illustrate the trend for increased prevalence of hearing loss with each advancing age decade.
As shown in Table 1, a high prevalence rate (averaging 41%) of substantial ear wax was identified for the entire 9,961 individuals studied, not just those with hearing loss.
Therefore, the hearing loss rates reported in this study may be influenced by the proportion of adults with DS among the total group tested.
The health conditions and care in some countries could influence the rate of hearing loss of their adult citizens with ID. Further study of the hearing of adults with documented degrees of ID and living in their general communities might reveal differences of degree and type of hearing loss by degree of ID and thus influence care planning.
Herer, an audiologist, is director emeritus of Children's Hearing and Speech Center, Children's National Medical Center, and professor emeritus of Pediatrics, George Washington University, Washington, DC.
It may be inherited or be a result of physical damage to the ears or serious injuries to the head. In larger children and especially teenagers the hearing loss may often be a result of noise exposure.
Some are treated with different types of implants and surgery may cure some types of conductive hearing loss.
Treatment can halt the further development of scarring but lost sight cannot be restored.Dry AMD can develop slowly and take a long time to progress There is currently no treatment for dry AMD.
These changes correlate with a precipitous drop in the high-frequency thresholds, which begins after middle age.
This correlates with a gradually sloping high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss that is slowly progressive.
The wiki page does refer to the issue as presbycusis, yet every reliable source on presbycusis lists it as being limited to post middle-aged people. We don't hear them because they cause no mechanical change in our ear that responds to those frequencies, and consequently no harm is done. It also reflects undetected hearing loss for individuals with ID, along with undertreated and unserved experiences once hearing loss is identified. Further, a number of studies indicated a persistent lack of hearing loss identification for many adults with ID prior to their being study subjects. Those study subjects with DS showed significantly greater rates at each age decade compared with the rates for persons with ID unrelated to DS. The hearing status and ear canal health of this very large sample provides informative perspectives of hearing and ear care needs of individuals with ID living within their general communities.
All audiometers were calibrated to the appropriate American National Standards Institute standards for pure tone testing.
This finding underscores the need for improved ear canal hygiene through regular ear examinations for all individuals with ID. Another large sample study of adults with ID living in the general community that does differentiate results for adults with DS from those for adults with ID without DS could provide clarification of any differences.
Further studies of people with ID living in the general communities of a variety of counties could be helpful in identifying specific care needs in respective countries. For example, one study in the literature (Agrawal, Platz, & Niparko, 2008) noted that hearing loss prevalence increased for those in the general population with smoking and noise exposure experiences, as well as cardiovascular risks.
The prevalence of ear, nose and throat disorders in preschool children with Down's syndrome in Glasgow. Obstacles in large-scale epidemiological assessment of sensory impairments in a Dutch population with intellectual disabilities. Prevalence of hearing loss in 1598 adults with an intellectual disability: Cross-sectional population based study. A type of sensorineural hearing loss is called a age-related hearing loss also known as Presbyacusis.
You should also be aware that certain medications and lifestyles may increase the risk of hearing loss. Almost everybody experiences temporary tinnitus, but many have permanent tinnitus which some find very annoying.
People with early and moderate stages of DRY AMD are not eligible for registration, but it does have an impact upon a person daily life, for example they may have to stop driving.Glaucoma -This is a group of eye conditions in which the optic nerve is damaged commonly, but not always, due to changes in eye pressure. The abrupt downward slope of the audiogram begins above the speech frequencies; therefore, speech discrimination is often preserved. It seems the wiki page is the only source referring to range of audible frequencies in young people as presbycusis? In the case of age-related hearing loss, the hair cells in the inner ear that should respond to high-frequency sounds, have already stopped responding, so there is nothing left to harm. The hearing health of children with Down syndrome (DS) has received considerable attention in published reports, and some studies have examined the hearing status of adults with ID in institutional settings.
Essentially all investigations recommended regular hearing and health screenings for adults with ID (H. Further, a remarkable 48% of subjects with ID had not been identified with hearing loss before this study was undertaken.
The rates of hearing loss for participants with DS ranged progressively from 36.4% (ages 18–30) to 100% (ages 61–70). All threshold testing was conducted in very quiet sound environments, mostly within sound booths brought to event sites. These differences may be due to different groups of individuals with ID participating at each event.
This information certainly has implications for the variety of hearing aids that would be useful for these adults.
A comparison with general non-ID population data for these age decades (Great Britain-1989 and Italy-1996) is presented in Table 4 and reveals remarkable differences. Further study of adults with ID with these characteristics could be very revealing and possibly lead to preventive or intervention measures for vulnerable groups within the adult population with ID. The prevalence of hearing impairment and reported hearing disability among adults in Great Britain.
Prevalence of visual and hearing impairment in a Dutch institutionalized population with intellectual disability.
If there are problems with conducting sound to the inner ear and the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged at the same time, it is called a mixed hearing loss.

A connection between tinnitus and hearing loss has been proven and many people with tinnitus often also have a hearing loss. Damage to sight can usually be minimised by early diagnosis in conjunction with careful regular observation and treatment.Many glaucoma patients will attend regular appointments and take eye drops for the rest of their lives to prevent deterioration of vision. Histologically, the atrophy may be limited to only the first few millimeters of the basal end of the cochlea. All testing was conducted by experienced audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and other health care professionals who were trained to use the investigation's protocol. Most important, though, these results reflect the significant unmet need for amplification of these individuals given that most had no prior experiences with hearing aids. This essay will discuss the hearing status reported for 9,961 non-institutionalized adults with ID (Herer, 2012).
These data are in concert with the findings of the previously cited study by Meuwese-Jongejeugd et al. Special Olympics Healthy Hearing Program: Guidelines for standardized screening procedures, 2nd ed. One theory proposes that these changes are due to the accumulation of lipofuscin pigment granules. Herer received his bachelor and master of science degrees in communication sciences and disorders from Syracuse University under the mentorship of Dr. Down syndrome in a population of elderly mentally retarded patients: genetic-diagnostic survey and implications for medical care.
A number of studies have demonstrated the cost benefits of cataracts surgery in improving life quality and reducing the number of falls.Diabetic retinopathy - Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes. He completed his PhD degree in audiology at Northwestern University under the mentorship of Dr. It occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the cells at the back of the eye, known as the retina.
If it is not treated, it can lead to blindness.3Low vision -This refers to people who have some useful vision which can often be improved with low vision aids and adaptations.
Low vision services may be based in a local hospital, located in opticians' practices or offered from a resource centre run by the local society for people with sight loss. The causes of vision impairment in childhood are generally different to the causes of sight loss in adults. Herer's current interests include the delivery of audiology services in a public health model and audiology graduate education of speech-language pathology students. The four most common causes are:Cerebral Vision Impairment is ante- or post-natal damage to the vision processing parts of the brain. There are numerous cases of hearing loss in children - hearing loss affects all age groups. Since most people with hearing impairments hear well in a quiet environment like a doctor's office, it can be virtually impossible for your physician to recognize the extent of your problem. Without special training, and an understanding of the nature of hearing loss, it may be difficult for your doctor to even realize that you have a hearing problem. 6Approximately 10% of UK blindness registrations are attributed to glaucoma and it's overall prevalence is around 2% of people over 40 7. This is thought to be higher in people of Black African or Black Caribbean descent who have a family history of Glaucoma. There were 9,100 new registrations to the register of blind people, a fall of 11 per cent compared to 2008.151,000 people were on the register of partially sighted people, a decrease of 5,300 (3 per cent) from March 2008.
There were 11,800 new registrations to the register of partially sighted people, a fall of 10 per cent compared to 2008.The percentage of people aged 75 and over in the partially sighted group was 66 per cent, compared to 64 per cent for the blind group. People registered as blind or partially sighted are nearly five times more likely to have been not in paid employment for five years or more than the general population.Ethnicity - The risk of developing glaucoma is higher in African and African-Caribbean populations.
Evidence shows that people from the Asian population are at a higher risk of developing cataracts. African, African-Caribbean and Asian populations are at a higher risk of developing diabetic eye disease.Learning Disabilities -There is a high prevalence rate of sight loss amongst adults with learning disabilities. An estimated 96,500 adults with learning disabilities in the UK, including 42,000 known to the statutory services, are blind or partially sighted.
This means that nearly one in ten adults with learning disabilities is blind or partially sighted. Adults with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to be blind or partially sighted than the general population.Smoking -The link between smoking and Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the UK's leading cause of blindness, is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer. Smokers not only double their risk of developing AMD but also tend to develop it earlier than non-smokers. Both conditions can cause sudden loss of vision in one eye and can lead to further complications.Unintentional Injuries- A recent review of evidence on the link between falls and sight loss found that almost half (47 per cent) of all falls sustained by blind and partially sighted people were directly attributable to their sight loss.
It is predicted that moderate or severe hearing loss will increase by 30% in B&NES by 2030 and profound hearing loss by 39%. It more than doubles the risk of depression in older people and children with hearing loss also have an increasedHearing loss has a significant impact on education and employment. There are many others that social services deal with who this team aren’t aware of and so are never registered.
In order to reduce lifelong inequalities, it is important that support is provided from birth, throughout childhood and the transition into adulthood. Children with vision impairment are at risk of poor outcomes across a range of emotional and social wellbeing indicators, which can have an effect on adult life, limiting work opportunities. It can also have a major impact on the wellbeing and coping capacities of the family.Children most at risk of vision impairment 28Premature and low birth weight babies - are at risk of underdevelopment of ocular structures, increased risk of squint, and cerebral vision impairment. Very premature and low birth weight babies are at particular risk of retinopathy of prematurity, a preventable condition. Ocular screening on premature babies is recommended.Genetic eye conditions can affect any structure of the eye or visual pathway. They are prevalent in socioeconomically deprived groups and in ethnic minority populations, particularly South Asian.Maternal infections such as measles and rubella can cause childhood vision impairment.
Measles immunisation is necessary to reduce preventable childhood blindness.Alcohol and drug exposure -a high percentage of children suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome have vision impairment and develop eye abnormalities.

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