Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is the gradual loss of hearing in both ears. It’s a common problem linked to aging. About 30% of adults over age 65 have hearing loss.
Because the hearing loss happens slowly, some people are not aware of the change at first. Most often, it affects the ability to hear high-pitched noises such as a phone ringing or beeping of a microwave. The ability to hear low-pitched noises is usually not affected.
There may be many causes for age-related hearing loss. It most often occurs because of changes in the following areas:
Other things that affect age-related hearing loss:
Each person’s symptoms may vary. Some of the most common symptoms include:
The symptoms of age-related hearing loss may seem like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will use a lighted scope (otoscope) to check in the outer ear canal and to look at the ear drum. He or she will look for damage to the ear drum, blockage of the ear canal from foreign objects or impacted ear wax, and inflammation or infection.
You may be referred to a hearing specialist, called an audiologist, to have an audiogram. An audiogram is a test in which sounds are played through headphones, to one ear at a time. You are asked if you can hear each sound. If you can’t hear certain tones this may mean there has been some hearing loss.
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment plan for you based on:
Treatment options for age-related hearing loss may include the following:
If your hearing loss is significant enough, you may need some type of hearing aid or other aids to communicate with others.
The most important way to prevent age-related hearing loss is to protect your hearing.
If you have hearing loss, your healthcare professional can refer you to specialists in hearing loss, such as an:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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