What is presbycusis?
Presbycusis is the gradual loss of hearing that occurs as people
age. It is a common disorder associated with aging. Estimates indicate
that 30 percent of people 65 and over, and 50 percent of people 75 and
older have some degree of hearing loss.
Presbycusis usually occurs gradually, with
some people not immediately aware of the change.
What causes presbycusis?
There may be many causes for presbycusis, but it most commonly
occurs because of age-related changes in the following locations:
- within the inner ear
- within the middle ear
- along the nerve pathways to the brain
Contributors to presbycusis include:
- cumulative effects of environmental
- loss of hair cells (sensory receptors in
- hereditary factors
- side effects of some medications
What are the symptoms of
The following are the most common symptoms for presbycusis,
however, individuals may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may
- speech of others sounds mumbled or
- high-pitched sounds, such as "s"
or "th" are hard to distinguish
- conversations are difficult to
understand, particularly when there is background noise
- men's voices are easier to hear than
- some sounds seem overly loud and
- tinnitus may occur in one or both ears
The symptoms of presbycusis may resemble
other conditions or medical problems. Consult a physician for a diagnosis.
Treatment for presbycusis:
Specific treatment will be determined by the physician(s) based
- patients age, overall health, and
- extent of the disease
- expectations for the course of the
- patients tolerance for specific
medications, procedures, or therapies
- patients opinion or preference
Treatment options for presbycusis may
include the following:
- avoiding loud noises and reducing noise
- wearing ear plugs or special
fluid-filled ear muffs to prevent further damage to hearing
- hearing aid(s)
- assistive devices such as telephone
- training in speechreading - using visual
cues to determine what is being said