Most common causes of presbycusis are noise and age

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In adults, the most common causes of hearing loss are noise and age. This was the message at the Pattaya City Expats Club meeting on Sunday, October 20. The speaker Dr. Mukda Pattana-anek, PhD, appearing on behalf of Bangkok Hospital Pattaya (BHP), began her talk by noting that she previously had spoken to the Club about hearing loss, but would concentrate her talk this time on age-related hearing loss known as presbycusis. Dr. Mukda is an experienced Audiologist working with BHP. She is presently the Executive Manager with DMED Hearing Center Co, Ltd., which has offices in various Thailand cities including Pattaya.

She mentioned that deterioration in hearing due to aging can start quite early – as early as 18 years of age – but it usually is not noticeable until much later. Men are more affected than women. She displayed a diagram of the ear and briefly described the functions of the Outer ear, Middle ear, Inner ear, Eustachian tube, Ear drum, and the Cochlea in communicating sound to the brain.

PCEC’s speaker for October 20th was Dr. Mukda Pattana-anek, PhD, appearing on behalf of Bangkok Hospital Pattaya (BHP).PCEC’s speaker for October 20th was Dr. Mukda Pattana-anek, PhD, appearing on behalf of Bangkok Hospital Pattaya (BHP).

“Presbycusis” is the cumulative effect of aging on one’s hearing, she said. The hearing loss is most marked at higher frequencies and both ears tend to be affected. She explained that presbycusis should not be confused with other causes of hearing loss besides noise, such as ear wax build up, an infected ear drum (also known as “fluid on the ear”), and blockage of the Eustachian tube. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and circulatory problems can aggravate presbycusis.

According to Dr. Mukda, over time, those with presbycusis find the detection of high-pitched sounds becomes more difficult, and speech perception is affected, particularly of sibilants (e.g. hissing-like sounds in words and syllables starting with S and Z) and fricatives (e.g. “th” sounds and some words and syllables that start with F or V). Symptoms of presbycusis include: (a) hearing mumbles instead of distinct words; (b) having difficulty picking up conversations, especially when there is background noise; (c) finding certain sounds annoying; and (d) ringing in one or both ears (Tinnitus).

If you experience any of these symptoms, she said that you should get a hearing test to determine the extent of any hearing loss. Further, the test will show whether a hearing aid may be of help in overcoming the loss. She presented various audiologist diagrams and described how the chart shows the extent of hearing loss in each ear.  She then mentioned that with today’s technology, hearing aids can be specifically programmed to overcome the type of hearing loss experienced.  There are various brands on the market with one of the newest being the “Dream” hearing aid made by Widex, a leading manufacturer.

Widex claims that their newest hearing aid, which is wireless, provides a fuller sound with better detail. It says that the Dream hearing aids enables people to hear speech better in the more difficult environments such as noisy restaurants, social gatherings, cars, places of worship and music events. There are four models in the Dream line, with the most expensive having the most programs. She also noted that this and the previous Widex “Clear” series also have accessories available including a remote control and two devices designed to use blue tooth technology to transmit sound direct to your hearing aid(s) from your mobile phone (M-Dex) or from your television (TV-Dex).

PCEC members and guests listen to Dr Mukda’s interesting presentation detailing the problems people can encounter with their hearing as they age, and the treatments and devices available overcome them.PCEC members and guests listen to Dr Mukda’s interesting presentation detailing the problems people can encounter with their hearing as they age, and the treatments and devices available overcome them.

But, in many cases, she pointed out, the type of hearing loss may not require the more sophisticated type of hearing aid, which can be expensive.  She mentioned that Widex also makes a hearing aid called “Menu,” because it can be loaded with one or more features from a menu of programs. Each is designed for specific types of hearing loss. The Menu hearing aid is significantly less expensive, as you pay only for the program(s) you need. For more information, you can visit DMED’s website: www.dmedhearing.com.

Member Alba avails herself of the annual flu shot, arranged for Pattaya City Expats by the courteous staff of Bangkok Hospital Pattaya.Member Alba avails herself of the annual flu shot, arranged for Pattaya City Expats by the courteous staff of Bangkok Hospital Pattaya.

After the presentation, Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and called on Tony Heron to conduct the always informative Open Forum, where questions are asked and answered about expat living in Thailand, Pattaya in particular.  For more information on the Clubs activities, visit their website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.