Our ability to hear and understand sounds around us depends on the inner ear (the cochlea) converting sounds to electrical signals that are then interpreted by the brain. As we age, structures in the inner ear needed for the processing of sound can begin to break down from the effects of aging, noise exposure and other causes. This process leads to “age-related hearing loss” which is reflected in a reduced ability to hear clearly as sounds in the inner ear are no longer converted precisely into neural signals for the brain. Spoken words may often, therefore, sound garbled or as if the speaker is mumbling—hence leading to the common complaint of “I can hear you but can’t understand you.”
Hearing 101 Videos
Learn about how hearing works and how hearing changes as we age.
Introducing a new way to view data | SHINY from R Studio
Introducing a new way of looking at the prevalence of hearing loss. Rates of hearing loss as measured with gold-standard audiometric hearing tests vary substantially by age and gender. Importantly, projections of the number of people with hearing loss will also change dramatically over time with the rising number of older adults living longer than ever before. Explore how the number of people with hearing loss is expected to change over time using a web app that Center Core Faculty Josh Betz has developed using Shiny.
The Impact of Hearing Loss
The broader consequences of hearing loss in older adults on dementia and health care costs are now being recognized globally and top-down national initiatives to address hearing loss have followed.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine convenes a dedicated consensus study to address issues of the accessibility and affordability of hearing care in the U.S.
MAKING A SOUND INVESTMENT
The World Health Organization concludes the global cost of untreated hearing loss is $750B.
The White House
The White House President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology publishes a report on the imperative of addressing hearing loss in older Americans.