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No birds chirping? Scientists think it may be in your genes.

Most of us over 40 expect we’ll eventually need reading glasses. What we may not realize is that our hearing changes too.

Presbycusis is the technical name for the loss of hearing high-pitched sounds. Like reading glasses, high frequency loss can come with age. Examples? Birds chirping, whistling and children’s voices.

A study published in BMC Genetics finds that where genes are positioned on the chromosome may relate to the high frequency hearing loss that comes with aging. Scientists are still discovering how genes relate to the organization of the auditory system. One day, it may be possible to create a map of the genes that influence our ability to discriminate between sounds of different frequencies and so better understand the changes to our hearing that come with aging.

Until then prevention is our best line of defense. Sounds above 85 decibels (dB) can be harmful so your best bet is limiting exposure. I’ve advised a friend who rides a motorcycle (100 dB) to wear ear plugs. I now “plug up” at concerts (129 dB) and pay attention to situations that make my ears ring. I carry soft foam ear plugs in my purse so I’m ready or in a recent case of short-term noise - a car alarm that wouldn’t turn off - I’ve simply plugged my ears with my fingers.

If you are struggling to hear high frequency sounds the next step is a hearing test. My husband’s test at Connect Hearing showed a high frequency loss and though no corrective action is required just yet, we have a baseline measurement from which to compare changes over time.

Check out the link on our site if you suspect those high sounds are getting harder to hear. While changes in our hearing may be controlled by our genes, unlike the need for reading glasses we can proactively take steps to slow high frequency loss.

To find out more, read this article on the 5 things you need to know about high frequency hearing loss.

References:
Hearing Review - Location Discovered of Genes that May Be Responsible for Age-Related High Frequency Hearing Loss

 

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