What is presbycusis?

Just like traffic and taxes, getting older is an inevitable part of life. Unfortunately, so is hearing loss. Presbycusis is gradual hearing loss that happens as you get older. It is the most common cause of hearing loss and affects one in three people aged 65 and one out of two people by the age of 75.

The World Health Organization predicts that by 2025, there will be more than 500 million people experiencing a significant hearing loss as a result of presbycusis.

The symptoms of presbycusis

If you have noticed that being able to understand conversations in noisy environments is becoming increasingly difficult or it sounds as if people are mumbling when they talk, you may have presbycusis. It can cause sounds to become distorted and you may find that you often misunderstand what is being said to you. It’s a gradual deterioration and usually starts by affecting your ability to hear high-pitched sounds. Eventually, this can progress into not being able to clearly hear sounds at increasingly lower frequencies. Other symptoms can include:

  • Other people’s speech sounds mumbled or slurred
  • High-pitched sounds such as th and s become difficult to hear and to tell apart
  • Struggle to understand conversations, particularly in a noisy environment
  • A man’s voice is easier to hear and understand than a woman’s
  • Particular sounds become too loud or annoying
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

Causes of presbycusis

Presbycusis is one of the most common hearing loss types, while also a sensorineural hearing disorder that is caused by the natural ageing of the auditory system and a loss of the nerve hair cells found in the cochlea.

Treatments for presbycusis

While changes in your hearing are a normal side effect of ageing, if you are worried about your hearing, it’s a good idea to book a consultation with a licensed hearing care professional. While presbycusis cannot be cured, from the results of your hearing test, your audiologist will be able to determine the type and severity of your hearing loss. They will recommend which treatment they think will help you to best manage your hearing loss and symptoms. This may include:

Preventing presbycusis

Excessively loud noises, both at work and at home, can pose a serious risk to your hearing health. While you may not be able to avoid them, especially in your job, it’s important that you are aware of potentially damaging sources of sounds. For instance, loud appliances, machinery and firearms. Avoiding these sources of loud noises and wearing ear protection at all times when around them, can help prevent damage to your hearing.

While presbycusis may be a common condition  of getting older, it’s not something you have to simply put up with. If you think your hearing has deteriorated whether suddenly or over a period of time, it’s a good idea to book a hearing evaluation as soon as possible.

With you on your journey to better hearing.

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