Presbycusis

Presbycusis is gradual hearing loss in both ears that commonly occurs as people age. This form of gradual hearing loss can be mild, moderate, or severe. Presbycusis that leads to permanent hearing loss may be referred to as nerve deafness.

  • Causes

    There are several causes of presbycusis including:

    • Gradual degeneration of the inner ear

    • Changes the bone structure of the ear, a condition called
      otosclerosis
    • Changes in the hearing nerve pathways in the ear leading to the brain
    • Repeated exposure to loud sounds, music, or equipment which can damage the fragile hair cells within the inner ear involved in hearing
    • Hereditary or genetic influences

  • Definition

    Presbycusis is gradual hearing loss in both ears that commonly occurs as people age. This form of gradual hearing loss can be mild, moderate, or severe. Presbycusis that leads to permanent hearing loss may be referred to as nerve deafness.

    The Ear
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will perform a visual exam of your ear canal and eardrum with a lighted instrument called an otoscope.

    Tests may include the following:

    • Rinne test—to test if hearing loss the hearing loss is nerve related
    • Weber test—to determine if the hearing loss is one-sided
    • Audiometry
      —to determine level and extent of hearing loss

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of developing presbycusis, take the following steps:

    • Follow treatment plans that help manage health conditions that may cause hearing loss.
    • Avoid repeated exposure to loud noises and sounds of any type, including those at work, home, and during recreation.
    • When working with loud machinery or in loud environments, wear protective ear plugs or ear muffs.
    • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how you can quit.

  • Risk Factors

    Presbycusis is more common in men, and in people over 75 years old. Other factors that may increase your chance of presbycusis include:

    • Family history of gradual hearing loss with advancing age
    • Noise exposure
    • Smoking

    • Having certain health conditions, such as:


      • Cardiovascular disease,
        high blood pressure
        , or other circulatory problems
      • Diabetes
      • Otosclerosis
      • Thyroid diseases
      • Trauma
      • Vestibular schwannoma
      • Infection
      • Paget disease of bone

  • Symptoms

    Presbycusis may cause:

    • Noticeable loss of hearing of higher-pitched sounds, such as female voices, telephone ringing, or bird calls
    • Sounds that appear less clear and sharp
    • Difficulty understanding conversations, particularly in noisy places or while speaking on the telephone

    • Ringing in one or both ears, a condition called
      tinnitus
    • Background sounds appear overly loud or bothersome

    • Ear fullness with or without
      vertigo

    With presbycusis, hearing loss is usually very gradual, affecting both ears equally.

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following: