Presbycusis (also known as age-related hearing loss) is a progressive condition that affects those of the older generation – usually over the age of 65. A result of the degeneration of the cochlea (or its associated structures) of the auditor nerves or inner ear, it has many causes, including environmental exposures, genetics and ototoxic medications that can cause long-term damage to your ears.
It can also be the result of changes occurring along the nerve pathways that lead to the brain or a change in the amount of blood supply to the ear as a result of circulatory problems, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
Once you start to notice the signs of hearing loss, it is vital that you visit a hearing health professional to help with the following steps – which also includes offering advice on whether a hearing aid is appropriate for your requirements. Presbycusis is such a common condition internationally that many might not realize they have it until a friend or family member points it out.
Presbycusis is usually associated with hearing loss in high-pitched sounds. For example, someone with the condition will be able to hear low-pitched sounds such as a car driving past but won’t be able to hear when a telephone rings. It most commonly affects both ears equally, and the process of hearing loss is gradual.
What Are the Symptoms?
The main symptoms of presbycusis are:
- Sounds that seem distorted, lower, and less clear
- Difficulty in both hearing and understanding speech
- Tinnitus, which is a hissing, ringing, or roaring sound in one or both ears
- A man’s voice being easier to understand than a woman’s due to its lower pitch
- Difficulty in distinguishing between sounds such as “th” and “s”
When Should You Visit a Hearing Health Professional?
- When you find yourself constantly asking people to repeat themselves during conversations
- When you need to turn up the volume of the TV or radio higher than normal
- When you experience symptoms of tinnitus
- When friends or family mention that you are speaking loudly
- When you frequently miss parts of conversations
Can You Prevent Presbycusis?
Although there is no real way to reverse the condition or to prevent it, there are ways that you can delay it by using good hearing practices and looking after your ears.
You can make sure that you have a healthy lifestyle (so that you don’t have to take medication that can result in the condition), protect your ears from exposure to loud sounds, and avoid/quit smoking.
If you ever have any concerns or questions regarding the condition, it is important that you get in contact with a hearing health professional as soon as possible.
They will be able to test your hearing and determine the specifics of your hearing loss – including which of your ears is most affected by a change in frequencies.