11 Jan Effects of Aging on Ear, Nose, and Throat
Your body goes through major changes as you age and your senses will not be spared. Aging reduces your senses’ sharpness, making it harder for you to notice certain details, see and hear things, and communicate.
Whatever sensory information that is carried to your brain will be affected, especially the sense of hearing and sight.
If only the problem stops at weaker and duller senses, right?
For seniors at home or in aged care residences, such changes can lead to serious problems.
Effect of Ageing on Hearing
The ears are used for hearing and maintaining balance.
This means changes to your ear will not only result in a hearing loss but also balance problems. Unfortunately, structures inside your ear and their function decline as you grow older.
This can result in one or two things:
- You lose the ability to hear high-frequency sounds.
- You have trouble differentiating certain sounds from another.
- You have difficulty hearing a conversation when a background noise is playing.
- You can have tinnitus or persistent, abnormal ear noise.
- You may have impacted ear wax that is common with age.
When these problems occur, a visit to an ear, nose, and throat surgeon will greatly help. Find out what’s causing your hearing loss or imbalance problems and identify the most suitable cure or management solutions.
It could be that you will need a hearing aid or that you need to manage your tinnitus or impacted ear wax.
Don’t think you’re experiencing ear problems of any kind?
Studies show that:
- Hearing impairment happens to over a quarter of people aged 65 years and older.
- Signs of hearing impairment become clearer to a third of people by age 75.
Count yourself lucky if your hearing or ears aren’t experiencing problems when you reach those ages. But make sure to have yourself checked just the same.
Effects of Ageing on the Nose
People in their 50s will experience a diminished ability to smell or taste. Along with a duller sense of taste, older people are less likely to enjoy the full range of flavors of the food they are eating.
The cause for the decreased sensitivity of your nose is due to the thinner and drier lining. The nerve endings and mucus production tend to deteriorate as you age as well. People aged 70 and older will experience the difference.
There are also physical manifestations, such as thick hair growth in the nose and an enlarged or lengthened nose with the tip possibly drooping.
Aging, however, is not the only one to blame for the loss of the sense of smell. Smoking, disease, and exposure to harmful particles or air pollution are also possible culprits.
What is alarming about the loss of smell is the inability to sense danger. If there’s smoke, fire, or presence of poisonous gas in the air, you would be unable to detect it. The same is true when it comes to identifying stale food.
Effects of Aging on the Throat and Voice
As you age, your larynx’s tissues may stiffen, resulting in hoarseness or changes in the pitch and quality of your voice. This can lead to aspiration or leakage of fluids or food into the trachea while swallowing. Severe or persistent aspiration can lead to pneumonia.
Changes in the throat and voice can be caused by certain disorders as well, which make them something crucial to watch out for.
Hoarseness, for example, when accompanied by pain in swallowing or pain with phonation can be a sign of cancer. When you cough blood at some point, cancer could be in the subglottic area.
There are several treatment options for voice disorders – voice therapy and surgery, such as surgical correction, injection, and thyroplasty.
Growing old is a normal part of life. But when you know what changes your body goes through as you age, you will be better equipped to manage them and age healthy and gracefully.
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