Hearing age: Definition, test, nutrition, supplement, recommendations

Longevity.Technology System users:

To check your hearing age:

  1. Open LT System app on your smartphone
  2. Select ‘DNA Results’
  3. Scroll down and find ‘Hearing Age’
  4. Now, scroll down to find your results and recommendations.

Not a user yet?

That’s OK, you can sign-up for your Epigenetic DNA test here.


How does your hearing age measure up against your actual age? Approximately 48 million Americans have some level of hearing loss, frequently without noticing the slow deterioration, according to the HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) [1].

People with hearing loss typically wait an average of seven years before seeking assistance, and only one in five individuals who could benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one.

Hearing loss impacts nearly every aspect of life, including physical health, emotional well-being, social interactions, and work performance. 

Understanding your hearing age provides crucial insights into your auditory health, enabling timely interventions. 

This guide will explore the concept of hearing age, methods to assess it, and actionable steps to preserve and enhance your hearing as you age.

What is hearing age?

Hearing age refers to the functional age of your auditory system, which may differ significantly from your chronological age. 

Unlike chronological age, which simply measures the number of years you’ve lived, hearing age assesses the condition and performance of your hearing abilities. 

This concept helps identify how well your ears are functioning compared with the expected norms for different age groups.

Several factors influence hearing age, including:

1. Exposure to noise

Prolonged exposure to loud noises, whether from occupational hazards, recreational activities, or environmental factors, can accelerate the aging process of your ears. 

High-decibel environments damage the delicate hair cells in the inner ear, leading to early hearing loss [2].

2. Genetics

Certain genetic mutations can increase an individual’s susceptibility to hearing loss. These genetic factors can increase the likelihood of experiencing age-related auditory decline [3].

3. Health conditions

Chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease can negatively impact blood flow to the inner ear, which can accelerate hearing loss.

4. Ototoxic medications

Certain medications, known as ototoxic drugs, can damage the inner ear’s structures, leading to hearing loss [4]. These include some antibiotics, chemotherapy agents, and high-dose aspirin.

5. Lifestyle choices

Smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise negatively impact overall health, including hearing. Whereas a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular physical activities, and avoiding smoking can help maintain hearing health.

lifestyle choices

Hearing age vs chronological age

Hearing age and chronological age are two distinct concepts that provide valuable insights into different aspects of our health. 

Chronological age refers to the number of years a person has lived, measured from birth to the current date. 

It is a straightforward measure that does not account for the functional state of the body or its systems.

In contrast, hearing age assesses the functional status of the auditory system. It reflects how well a person’s hearing aligns with what is typically expected at different life stages. 

Understanding both hearing age and chronological age is crucial for several reasons:

  • Early detection – By recognizing discrepancies between hearing age and chronological age, individuals can detect early signs of hearing loss and seek timely interventions.
  • Preventive measures – Awareness of one’s hearing age can motivate proactive steps to protect hearing, such as reducing exposure to loud noises and adopting healthier lifestyle choices.
  • Personalized healthcare – Healthcare providers can use information about hearing age to tailor treatments and recommendations to an individual’s specific needs, rather than relying solely on their chronological age.

Consider a scenario where two individuals, both aged 40, undergo a hearing assessment. One person works in a quiet office and has no history of loud noise exposure, resulting in a hearing age close to 40. 

The other individual has spent years in a noisy factory without hearing protection and has a hearing age of 60. 

Despite their identical chronological ages, their hearing health profiles are vastly different, highlighting the importance of understanding and monitoring hearing age.

What is the best hearing age?

The ideal hearing age is one that matches or is younger than your chronological age, indicating that your auditory system is functioning optimally for your stage of life. 

For instance, if you’re 50 years old and have a hearing age of 40, your hearing is in excellent condition compared with typical age-related expectations.

Hearing abilities naturally decline with age due to factors like cumulative noise exposure, genetic predispositions, and health conditions. 

Typically, high-frequency sounds are the first to become difficult to hear. This gradual loss, known as presbycusis, often starts around age 60 but can vary widely among individuals.

To maintain a hearing age close to or younger than your chronological age you must protect your ears from loud noises, get regular hearing check-ups and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

What happens to your hearing as you age?

As you age, your auditory system undergoes several physiological changes. The hair cells in the cochlea, which transmit sound signals to the brain, gradually diminish.

This loss reduces your ability to hear high-frequency sounds, making it harder to understand speech, especially in noisy environments.

Additionally, the auditory nerve fibers, which carry sound information to the brain, can degenerate over time. 

Degeneration impacts sound clarity and processing speed. It can also stiffen the eardrum and middle ear bones, reducing their efficiency in transmitting sound vibrations.

Common conditions related to aging and hearing include:

  • Presbycusis is age-related hearing loss that typically affects both ears equally [5]. 
  • Tinnitus is characterized by a persistent ringing or buzzing in the ears. This is common for older adults [6].

Both conditions can significantly impact communication, social interactions, and overall quality of life.

How can you recognize and treat hearing loss?

Early signs and symptoms of hearing loss

Hearing loss often begins subtly, making it easy to overlook. Early signs include:

  • Struggling to hear conversations in noisy settings
  • Frequently asking others to repeat what they said
  • Increasing the volume on electronic devices more than usual
  • Ringing or buzzing in your ears (tinnitus) 
  • Struggle to hear high-pitched sounds

Common causes of hearing loss

Several factors can contribute to hearing loss. 

  • Prolonged exposure to loud noises, like machinery, concerts, or headphones at high volume, can damage the hair cells in your inner ear. 
  • Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is another common cause, typically starting around age 60. 
  • Ear infections, excessive earwax buildup
  • Ototoxic medications (drugs that damage hearing)
  • Chronic health conditions like diabetes and hypertension
  • Genetics, some individuals are more predisposed to hearing loss than others

Treatment options

The treatment options depend on the cause and severity of hearing loss. For people with conductive hearing loss (caused by blockages or damage to the middle ear), medical treatments may involve removing earwax, treating infections, or undergoing surgery to correct structural issues.

Sensorineural hearing loss, caused by inner ear or auditory nerve damage, often requires the use of hearing aids or implantable device [7], which amplify sound and improve communication.

In severe cases, cochlear implants might be recommended. These tools bypass damaged parts of the ear to directly stimulate the auditory nerve.

Emerging technologies like epigenetic DNA testing offer promising advancements in understanding and preventing hearing loss. 

By analyzing your gene expression, epigenetic testing can provide insights into how your lifestyle choices and environment impact your auditory health, leading to more personalized and effective treatment plans. 

Integrating this cutting-edge technology with traditional methods can enhance the precision of hearing loss diagnosis and intervention, potentially preserving your hearing for longer.

How do you check your hearing age?

Regular hearing check-ups are crucial for detecting any early signs of hearing loss and taking timely action.

Audiometry

During audiometry, the most common test for measuring hearing ability, you wear headphones and listen for tones at different frequencies and volumes. 

You indicate when you hear each tone to determine the quietest sound you can hear at each frequency.

Tympanometry

Another important test is tympanometry, which assesses the condition of the middle ear by measuring its response to changes in air pressure [8]. This can help detect issues such as fluid buildup, eardrum perforations, or ossicular chain problems.

Speech recognition tests 

These tests evaluate your ability to hear and understand spoken words, often in quiet and noisy environments. They help assess speech comprehension, which is vital for effective communication.

Epigenetic DNA testing

This is an emerging method that analyzes changes in gene expression related to hearing health. This test offers insights into how environmental factors and lifestyle choices impact your hearing, providing a more personalized approach to managing and enhancing auditory health.

Tips on where and how to get tested

To check your hearing age, start by scheduling an appointment with an audiologist, a specialist in hearing health. 

Many hearing centers, hospitals, and clinics offer comprehensive hearing assessments. Some pharmacies and community health programs also provide basic hearing screenings. 

For more advanced tests, Longevity.Technology offers an Epigenetic & DNA Test kit that you can use at home. You can receive detailed results within 3 to 4 weeks by providing a saliva sample.

Regular hearing check-ups, ideally once a year, can help you stay on top of your auditory health and address any issues early on.

tips on how and where to get tested
Photograph: chormail/Envato

What nutrients support your hearing health?

Maintaining optimal hearing health involves more than just protecting your ears from loud noises. Key nutrients like folate and astaxanthin play a crucial role in preserving your auditory system.

Folate, a B-vitamin, is essential for DNA synthesis and repair, which supports the overall health of your cells, including those in your inner ear. Research indicates that folate deficiency can contribute to age-related hearing loss [9].

Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant found in certain algae and seafood, helps protect your cells from oxidative stress. This nutrient reduces inflammation and protects the hair cells in your inner ear from damage [10], which is vital for maintaining good hearing.

Foods high in folate include leafy greens (kale and spinach), legumes ( lentils and chickpeas), and citrus fruits. 

For astaxanthin, consider adding salmon, trout, shrimp, and other seafood to your meals. These foods not only support your hearing but also contribute to overall health.

How do you improve hearing in old age?

Lifestyle changes and habits that promote better hearing

Wear earplugs in loud environments to protect your ears from excessive noise and keep the volume low on headphones and electronic devices. 

Regular exercise improves blood circulation to your ears, supporting auditory health. Additionally, avoid smoking and limit alcohol drinking, as both can contribute to hearing loss.

Importance of regular check-ups and early intervention

Annual visits to an audiologist can help monitor your hearing health and identify any issues before they become severe. Early intervention can help prevent further damage and maintain quality of life. 

Innovative approaches like epigenetic DNA testing can provide personalized insights into your hearing health. By analyzing gene expression, this test can identify potential risks and help you tailor lifestyle and treatment strategies to your specific needs.

Hearing aids and other assistive devices

For many seniors, hearing aids are crucial for improving their hearing. These devices enhance sound, making speech easier to hear and understand.

Modern hearing aids have advanced features like noise reduction, directional microphones, and Bluetooth connectivity, enhancing their effectiveness and convenience.

In addition to hearing aids, assistive devices like personal amplifiers, TV listening systems, and captioned telephones can support hearing in specific situations. 

Cochlear implants can help those with severe hearing loss by bypassing damaged parts of the ear to stimulate the auditory nerve directly.

Discover how your genetics influence hearing health

In the pursuit of maintaining optimal hearing health, genetics plays a crucial role that is often overlooked.

The Longevity.Technology Epigenetic & DNA Test provides a unique opportunity to dive deep into your genetic blueprint, uncovering the specific predispositions that could affect your hearing health.

This test examines markers linked to common auditory conditions, such as age-related hearing loss, offering a chance to intervene early through targeted lifestyle and nutritional changes.

For instance, if you’re genetically predisposed to certain types of hearing impairment, the test can guide you to increase specific nutrients in your diet, which might help mitigate these risks.

Furthermore, this genetic insight allows you to customize your hearing health strategy, tailoring it to suit your unique genetic makeup. This could mean adjusting your environment, your diet, or even how you interact with various soundscapes in your daily life.

In closing

Your hearing health is vital for your overall well-being, especially as you age. Identify the factors that affect hearing age and take proactive measures—such as regular check-ups, a nutrient-rich diet, and using assistive devices—to protect your auditory function. 

Technologies like epigenetic DNA testing offer personalized insights, allowing you to fine-tune your approach. By prioritizing your hearing health, you can improve communication, enhance quality of life, and stay connected with those around you.

Ready to hear what your genes have to say about your auditory health? Explore your hearing health options with our epigenetic & DNA test and take proactive steps towards a clearer future.

FAQs

What age is early hearing loss?

Early hearing loss can begin as early as age 40, though it typically starts to become noticeable around age 60. This varies depending on lifestyle and genetic factors.

How can I sharpen my hearing?

Protect your ears from loud noises and maintain a healthy diet rich in key nutrients. Regular check-ups and using hearing aids or assistive devices can also help sharpen your hearing.

How do you know if you have good hearing?

Good hearing is characterized by understanding conversations in various environments without difficulty. Regular audiometry tests can also confirm your hearing health status.

What is the best hearing a person can have?

The best hearing allows a clear perception of a wide range of frequencies and volumes without distortion. This typically aligns with the hearing capabilities of a healthy young adult.

[1] https://www.hearingloss.org/wp-content/uploads/HLAA_HearingLoss_Facts_Statistics.pdf
[2] https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/loud-noise-dangers/
[3] https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/genetics.html
[4] https://audiologycentral.com/understanding-ototoxic-hearing-loss-causes-symptoms-and-prevention/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207834/
[6] https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/tinnitus
[7] https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/sensorineural-hearing-loss/
[8] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/tympanometry
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4314232/
[10] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1808869422000234

Photograph: YuriArcursPeopleimages/Envato
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.