As a teen, I thought nothing of loud concerts and music blaring through headphones. That might be catching up to me now. There are times that I find myself straining to hear the television and I am constantly asking my husband (somehow he seems to always be in control of the remote) to turn up the volume. He teases me that in another 25 years, I will barely be able to hear at all. I grin smugly at him as I announce that if that is the case, then my hearing will be the same as his memory.
Presbycusis is the gradual loss of the ability to hear sounds or age-related hearing loss. According to About.com, “the most common cause of hearing loss in aging adults is a loss of tiny hair cells in the ear. These cells act as receptors – they vibrate when sounds are present. The loss of hair cells is largely thought to be due to aging itself, though a lifetime of exposure to loud noises, hereditary factors, some health conditions, and some medications, such as aspirin and certain antibiotics, have also been found to contribute to presbycusis.”
I didn’t find much hope in the prevention category for this condition. Common sense tells us to minimize exposure to loud noises and it is especially beneficial when we are younger. As a teen, I would not have been caught dead bringing, let alone wearing, earplugs to a concert. The older, wiser me would have said that life isn’t really about what people think about you, it’s more about doing what you can to take care of yourself and others.
Which leads me to wonder if our hearing can decrease with age, then could it be at its peak during childhood? Maybe for some children and for mine, yes. This is the only explanation that I can think of for the situations that occur at our house.
I can hear the kids laughing and playing in the other room as I slowly lift the cover of the glass jar that holds the colorful, chocolate M & M’s. My fingers graze them ever so slightly as I reach in for a handful. When I turn, I am surprised to see three little boys cornering me in the kitchen. Their eyes are wide and their little white teeth gleaming through their smiles like velociraptors. “Can we have some M & M’s, too?”