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What is Presbycusis?

Presbycusis is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most individuals as they grow older. Hearing loss is a common disorder associated with aging. About 30-35 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 75 years have a hearing loss.

Presbycusis most often occurs in both ears, affecting them equally.

The hearing loss associated with presbycusis is usually greater for high-pitched sounds. It may be difficult for someone to hear the nearby chirping of a bird or the ringing of a telephone.

Results of Presbycusis

There are many causes of presbycusis. Most commonly it arises from changes in the inner ear of a person as he or she ages, but presbycusis can also result from changes in the middle ear or from complex changes along the nerve pathways leading to the brain.

What are the Symptoms of Presbycusis?

The most common symptoms of presbycusis are:

  • The speech of others seems mumbled or slurred.
  • High-pitched sounds such as "s" and "th" are difficult to hear and tell apart.
  • Conversations are difficult to understand, especially when there is background noise.
  • A man's voice is easier to hear than the higher pitches of a woman's voice.
  • Certain sounds seem annoying or overly loud.
  • Ringing in the Ear

What Causes Presbycusis?

Presbycusis is usually caused by gradual changes in the inner ear. The cumulative effects of repeated exposure to daily traffic sounds or construction work, noisy offices, equipment that produces noise, and loud music can also cause presbycusis, or occur as a side effects of some medicines.

Presbycusis may be caused by changes in the blood supply to the ear because of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Can Presbycusis be Treated?

Yes. Hearing aids may help increase the ability to hear.

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