What Senior Drivers Need to Know About Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can cause unforeseen challenges on the road.

Doctor holds up otoscope while senior patients sit in background
Get your hearing tested if you feel you can't hear as well as you used to.
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According to the National Institute of Health, hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults, and aging is the most prevalent cause of hearing loss. Roughly one-third of Americans over age 65 have age-related hearing loss.

Hearing loss typically becomes more noticeable after age 50, and men tend to be affected more often than women. Other causes of hearing loss include ear infections, tumors that damage certain nerves, and some types of brain injury. Some people are born with hearing loss, or it can be inherited and not show up until later in life.

Symptoms of age-related hearing loss can include:

  • Difficulty hearing in noisy places;
  • Difficulty distinguishing high-pitched sounds from one another;
  • More difficulty hearing women and children’s voices than men’s;
  • Voices sounding mumbled or slurred;
  • And ringing sounds in the ears.

Hearing loss can be dangerous, especially when in or near traffic. For example, the inability to hear high-pitched tones, such as sirens from emergency response vehicles, can put you and other road users at risk.

Treatment options for hearing loss depend on the cause. If it is treatable but ignored, it can get worse or become permanent. Hearing loss that is identified early might be helped through treatment, such as hearing aids, certain medicines, or surgery. If you suspect you have hearing loss, contact your healthcare provider.