Presbycusis or age related hearing loss refers to the loss of hearing that occurs gradually in most people as they grow older. About 30-35% percent of adults aged 65-75 have hearing loss. Approximately 40-50% of people aged 75 and older have hearing loss.
Because most age related hearing loss is gradual it may take years for a person to realize that he/she has a hearing loss. Some of the telltale signs of age related hearing loss are:
- People seem to mumble or not speak clearly.
- Difficulty understanding speech especially in the presence of background noise.
- Tinnitus (Ringing or hissing sound in one or both ears).
- The hearing loss is usually greater for high pitched sounds. This includes greater difficulty hearing speech coming from women and children who are usually higher pitched, when compared to men who are usually lower pitched.
- Certain sounds may sound annoying or overly loud.
Presbycusis most often occurs in both ears affecting them equally, as a result of changes in the inner ear as we age. A variety of factors contribute to hearing loss as we get older. One of these factors is noise induced hearing loss. Most older adults with hearing loss have a combination of age related and noise induced hearing loss. Another factor contributing to age related hearing loss is conditions more common in older adults, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Hearing Aids. Come in a variety of styles and sizes.
Cochlear Implants. For people with profound hearing loss. A small electronic device surgically implanted in the inner ear.
Lip Reading. Can help people follow a conversation better.
Can Presbycusis be prevented?
Currently there is no known way to prevent age related hearing loss but there is ongoing research with regard to this topic. You can minimize the effects of presbycusis by using noise protection when exposed to loud sounds. You can also ask your Doctor/research different medications before taking them to find out if they are harmful to your hearing.
Friends and family can help. Tell your friends and family about your hearing loss. Ask them to face you when speaking and speak louder and clearer. Be aware of the noise level around you when speaking with people. Keep the noise environment in mind when planning social events.
Please take our online hearing test for more information.
Remember, contact an Audiologist or hearing aid specialist to have your hearing tested if you have hearing loss concerns.
Till next time,
Kostas (Gus) Neoclis, Sc.D., CCC-A, Audiologist