Presbycusis (hearing loss) with age

Presbycusis is the gradual loss of sensorial hearing due to aging. This age-related illness affects both ears simultaneously. It tends to begin around age 50 and an estimated one in three 65-year-old adults suffer from this illness. After hypertension and arthritis, this is the most common condition that affects older individuals. Most people don’t notice the initial phases; progress is gradual.

At first presbycusis takes away the inability to hear high-pitched sounds - beeping noises, phones, etc. Over time, lower frequencies can be also hard to hear. People with presbycusis have difficulty picking out relevant sounds they need to understand, especially in loud and noisy places. In a noisy environment, people with presbycusis frequently cannot communicate.

Causes of presbycusis

Presbycusis has numerous causes. Most often, people suffering from sensorial hearing loss have been regularly exposed to blaring sounds, which damages the auditory system. Besides this, there are some medications that can cause presbycusis on the long run, namely; the ototoxic medication (aspirin and certain antibiotics). High blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and smoking are risk factors. Another reason is the loss of hair cell receptors, which is in the inner ear’s Organ of Corti. Sometimes, age-related hearing loss can be genetic.

Symptoms of presbycusis

One of the most common symptoms is that the patient perceives the speech of others as mumbled or slurred. High frequency sounds are hard to distinguish (/s/, /ð/). If there is a background noise, a person with presbycusis has trounle understanding the speakers’ speech. Patients often heari male voices clearer than that of females. Occasionally, there is an annoying ringing noise in the ears (tinnitus).

The diagnosis of presbycusis requires the elimination of other causes or illnesses. A professional audiologist uses a special microscope (ear microscopy) to examine the patient. The patient listens to tones and speech audiograms, which allows the audiologist to determine whether the subject has presbycusis.

Treatment of presbycusis

Age, health, medical history, and patient preference factor into treatment selection. Treatments can include: training in lip-reading, preventing excess wax in the outer ear, and hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are very good and can raise the quality of life for the afflicted person.

Avoiding loud noises is also a good idea. Fluid-filled ear muffs are available as well as simple ear plugs.