Hearing loss - age related; Presbycusis
Age related hearing loss is a progressive loss of the ability to hear high frequencies, which occurs as people get older.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) involves a progressive loss of hearing, beginning with high-frequency sounds such as speech. It is unknown whether a specific cause such as noise trauma leads to presbycusis, but there appears to be a genetic predisposition.
Age-related hearing loss tends to occur in families. The disorder occurs in about 25% of people aged 65 to 75 and in 70% to 80% of those over age 75.
- Hearing loss o Progressive o Beginning with high-frequency sounds
- Difficulty understanding speech, especially in a noisy environment
Signs and tests
A physical examination may show wax in the ear that can be a contributing factor. Often the exam is unrevealing. Audiology or other testing determines the extent of hearing loss.
There is no known cure for age-related hearing loss. Treatment is focused on functional improvement. Hearing aids, which provide amplification, may help. Developing skills such as lip reading and using visual cues may aid communication, but these may be difficult skills for older people to learn.
Age-related hearing loss is progressive. The disorder is not dangerous but leads to increasing difficulty with communication.
Deafness is a complication. Deafness-related complications include social isolation and the inability to hear fire alarms.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if hearing loss occurs or worsens.
by Sharon M. Smith, M.D.
All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.