Hearing in your 50s – Why It’s So Important

by
05/05/2021
Your hearing and your health

Hearing is one of our most fundamental connections to the world. 

It links us to both our surroundings and to the people we care about most. It affects everything we do, but particularly our work, social and family lives.

“Listening to the sound of my paddle on the canal or the crashing of waves brings me so much joy – and I hope that this will never change.” Jo Moseley, 56, midlife adventurer & blogger"

And while many of us take our hearing for granted, starting to lose it can have a big impact on our physical well-being and mental health.

Even the slightest hearing loss can lead to the onset of tinnitus (a constant ringing in your ears) and it also increases your risk of falling1

And the impact on your mental health cannot be understated, with hearing loss being connected to depression, social isolation and dementia2

Studies3 have shown that longevity and a strong sense of community are closely linked, and hearing is one of the key ways in which we are able to form a sense of belonging.

Hearing loss is gradual

While hearing loss can happen suddenly (for example, after being exposed to a loud noise or through an injury or illness), for most people, their hearing gets worse the older they get. 

According to the WHO, it usually takes about ten years for someone to admit they have a hearing problem. But their significant other will notice far quicker4.

A decade is a long time to wait, especially considering that the quicker a hearing loss is addressed, the easier it is to adapt to any treatment. Hearing aids are an effective way to treat hearing loss. And they’re easier to get used to the earlier you get them.

“I’ve recently found out that I have some hearing loss having taken an online hearing test from Hidden Hearing. It was really useful and empowering to know that I can continue to look after myself, look after my hearing by regular testing so that I can continue to enjoy those magical moments in nature.”  Jo Moseley

Why your 50s are crucial to your hearing health

Twenty percent of UK adults suffer from some degree of hearing loss. But this number increases to 40% of over 50s, and 70% of over 70s. Since the risk of age-related hearing loss really starts to increase dramatically in our 50s, it’s crucial to get your hearing tested. The Campaign for Better Hearing recommends testing your ears at 55 years, and then every year after that.

“I was worried growing up that, with age, what if I wouldn’t be able to hear what I loved so much?”
David Lindo – ‘The Urban Birder’, wildlife broadcaster & nature writer

Hearing loss doesn’t mean you’re old

One of the pervading myths about hearing loss is that it is connected with the elderly. Yes, it’s connected to age, but it doesn’t mean you’re old. For example, our eyesight can get worse with age, but we’re happy to treat it with glasses. 

Many people hide a hearing problem. Admitting their hearing might not be as good as it used to be will make them feel old. But addressing a hearing loss early will help your brain stay younger as you’ll be more connected to others and able to participate more in life.

“Spring has sprung and it’s great to listen to birdsong. The dawn chorus is an amazing thing to witness… Your ears are as important as your eyes when you want to indulge with nature!”
David Lindo

How to look after your hearing

There are ways to care for your hearing.

  • Protect your ears in noisy environments, and use the correct PPE if you work in a noisy environment. 
  • Don’t listen to your iPod or personal music device at full volume, instead have it at 60% or lower and take regular breaks. 
  • Diets high in potassium5, folic acid6 and magnesium7  have all been shown to have a positive effect on your hearing health. 
    - Potassium: Fruit and nuts, potatoes, vegetables and pulses, cereals. 
    - Folic acid: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables.
    - Magnesium: Spinach, nuts, wholemeal bread8.
  • Don’t put anything in your ears. Even cotton buds can push ear wax further into your ear. If you’re worried about excess ear wax, this is something you can talk to about with you hearing care expert.

Test your ears at 55 years

Having a hearing test is quick (about an hour), simple and free. Taking the first step towards better hearing is often the hardest, but almost three-quarters (71%9) of hearing aid users regret not acting sooner. You have nothing to lose by taking a free test, but so much to gain!

“When you hit the big 5-0 you may experience some hearing loss… It’s important to take a simple online hearing test.”  David Lindo

Take a hearing test now.

Sources:
1 – Hearing Loss Linked to Three-Fold Risk of Falling - 02/27/2012 (hopkinsmedicine.org)
2 – Facts and figures - RNID
3 – Power 9® - Blue Zones
4 – World report on hearing (who.int)
5 – Association between a High-Potassium Diet and Hearing Thresholds in the Korean Adult Population | Scientific Reports (nature.com)
6 – Folic acid deficiency induces premature hearing loss through mechanisms involving cochlear oxidative stress and impairment of homocysteine metabolism - PubMed (nih.gov)
7 – Magnesium and Hearing (audiology.org)
8 – Vitamins and minerals - Others - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
9 – Microsoft PowerPoint - Anovum_EuroTrak_2018_UK - FINAL DECK FOR PUBLISHING (bihima.com)

 

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