What is Presbycusis?
Presbycusis is another name for hearing loss due to aging. It happens to people over the age of 60 and is oftentimes genetic. The hearing gets worse over the years but eventually plateaus.
What are the Symptoms of Presbycusis?
The main symptom of presbycusis is that sounds begin to sound less clear and are harder to hear. Many patients say that they know someone is talking to them, but they just can’t understand what is being said. Oftentimes, they think the speaker is mumbling, even when that’s not the case.
Why Does Presbycusis Happen?
To understand why presbycusis happens, you have to understand how the ear functions. First, sound enters the ear, bounces off the eardrum and passes through the three bones of hearing. The third hearing bone then interfaces with the cochlea (the hearing organ). Tiny receptor cells (also called hair cells) in the cochlea receive the sound, turn it into a nerve signal and send it to the brain for interpretation.
As you get older, the hair cells in the cochlea start to degenerate. Typically, the cells that allow you to hear higher pitched frequencies degenerate sooner. This makes it harder to hear sounds at those frequencies. The higher pitched sounds in words are the consonants (the softer sounds). These sounds convey the meaning of the word. The decreased ability to hear the consonants with the ability to hear the vowels leads to people stating they know people are talking to them, but they are unable to understand what they are saying.
How Common is Presbycusis?
Presbycusis is a very common problem to develop as you age. It’s estimated that one in three people over the age of 65 and nearly half of people over the age of 75 have presbycusis.
Can Presbycusis be Prevented?
Hearing loss is best prevented by avoiding exposure to loud noises, and having proper protection when faced with those situations.
How is Presbycusis Treated?
Before knowing if someone needs treatment, a comprehensive hearing examination should be performed. Most people with presbycusis are fitted with hearing aids to increase the volume of sounds. In some cases, more extensive treatment such as cochlear implants is necessary.
If you think you have presbycusis, are having trouble hearing or would like a hearing examination, please contact us at 602-307-9919 so we can set up a hearing examination for you. A hearing examination enables us to diagnose the cause and level of your hearing loss and find the best solution. It is our goal to improve your quality of life through better hearing.