Presbycusis is the gradual loss of hearings that is associated with aging. High pitched sounds are affected more often or earlier than low-pitched sounds.
Presbycusis is caused by changes that occur with age. There are several possible causes of presbycusis such as:
Presbycusis is more common in men, and in people over 75 years old. Other factors that may increase your chance of presbycusis include:
Presbycusis may cause:
With presbycusis, hearing loss is usually very gradual, affecting both ears equally.
You will be asked 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:
Treatment options include the following:
Stand closer to and face-to-face with people you are speaking to.
Have others speak louder and more clearly.
Try to reduce background noise.
If it is determined that a hearing aid may be useful, the audiologist will conduct several tests to determine the type of hearing aid that will best improve hearing of speech. The extent of benefit varies according to the cause and degree of hearing loss. Sometimes hearing aids will need to be replaced with other models if hearing loss progresses. Some people with presbycusis may benefit from telephone amplifiers that help hear speech on the telephone.
For certain people with very severe hearing loss that is not improved by a simple hearing aid, a cochlear implant device may improve sound generation to the brain. It may provide partial hearing to the profoundly deaf.
To help reduce your chance of presbycusis:
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
American Tinnitus Association
Canadian Hearing Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
Age-related hearing loss. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) website. Available at: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/age-related-hearing-loss. Updated June 29, 2017. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Age-related hearing loss. American Speech-Lnaguage-Hearing Association. Available at: http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/AIS-Hearing-Loss-Age-Related.pdf. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Gates GA, Mills JH. Presbycusis. Lancet. 2005;366(9491):1111-1120.
Huang Q, Tang J. Age-related hearing loss or presbycusis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2010 Aug;267(8):1179-91
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.