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.
There are several causes of presbycusis including:
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.
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:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
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: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/Pages/Age-Related-Hearing-Loss.aspx. Updated November 2013. Accessed August 10, 2015.
Gates GA, Mills JH. Presbycusis. Lancet. 2005;366(9491):1111-1120.
Hearing impairment in the elderly. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 1, 2014. Accessed September 25, 2014.
Last reviewed August 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
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.