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Age Related hearing Loss: Presbycusis

What is age related hearing loss?

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is the slow loss of hearing that occurs as we grow older.

Every Third person above 60 years is affected.

Why does it happen?

• There are tiny hair cells in the inner ear that translate the sound waves into electrical signals for the brain to interpret as recognizable sound. As we grow older, these hair cells are damaged or die.

The hair cells DO NOT regrow, so most hearing loss caused by hair cell damage is permanent.

Other less common causes include reduction of blood supply in

the inner ear or thickening of the tissues within the inner ear.

• Sometimes, it could be because of the combination of the above causes.


What are the risk factors?

What are the symptoms?

Gradual, Symmetrical, Bilateral Hearing Loss.

Sometimes person may not realize that he is having hearing loss.

Following may indicate age related hearing loss.

Loss of clarity in hearing. One may hear but not understand the words.

Having to raise the volume on the TV

Difficult to understand conversation in noisy areas

Frequently asking people to repeat themselves

Frustration at not being able to hear

Certain sounds seeming overly loud

Problems telling apart certain sounds, such as "s" or “th"

More   difficulty   hearing   higher   pitched           sounds,   such       as         the telephone ring, appliance beep or birds chirping.

Ringing or hissing in the ears

What are risks of untreated hearing loss?

  • Miscommunication Important information may be missed, such as financial, health, and legal, may be missed.

  • It makes the person dependent on others for communication

  • isolation Limit the person’s interaction within family and society leading to loneliness, isolation, and depression.

  • Safety risk Sounds such as car horns or smoke alarms may not be heard. Should we accept hearing loss as "part of getting older?”

Can we prevent or reverse age-related hearing loss?

Age related hearing loss cannot be prevented or reversed. In fact, it worsens with age

• However, you can protect your ears from sounds that are too loud and last too long thereby, limit the amount of hearing you might lose as you get older.

• Follow doctor’s guidelines for management of diabetes, heart disease or other circulatory problems. The hair cells in the inner ear depend on good blood flow to keep them healthy.


How is age related hearing loss treated?

Hearing aids helps

There is no cure for age-related hearing loss. Treatment is focused on improving your everyday function.

Hearing aids:

•  Hearing aids are the mainstay of treatment of age-related hearing loss.

•  They are electronic instruments you wear in or behind your ear.

•  They make sounds louder.

•  They are really effective in restoring the ability to communicate in mild to moderate hearing loss.

•  Modern day hearing aids are completely digital, highly precise and can be customized according to the patient’s needs.

 Other options include:

•  Assistive listening device: Technology is available to amplify sound from your television, telephone and other personal electronic devices. ALDs can be used with or without hearing aids.

•  Auditory rehabilitation: Sign language, lip reading and using visual cues to aid communication

•  A cochlear implant may be recommended for people with severe hearing loss. Surgery is done to place the implant.

Step by step guidelines for a patient with age related hearing loss

Step 1: Assess your symptoms

Do you frequently ask people to repeat themselves?

Do you shy away from conversation?

Do you nod and smile when you are not sure what you just heard? Have your loved ones told you they think you have hearing loss?

Do you no longer hear common noise like birds chirping and alliances beeping?

Do you have to raise volume of TV/ Music systems?

Step 2: Visit an ENT Specialist

The doctor will evaluate your ear and treat any wax clogging or middle ear problem. The doctor will then refer you to Audiologist.

Step 3: Meet the audiologist

The audiologist will perform a hearing test called Pure Tone Audiometry (PTA).

Step 4: Confirmation of diagnosis

Discuss the report with both ENT specialist and audiologist.

If the diagnosis of age-related hearing loss is confirmed, you will be advised to take hearing aid trial

Step 5: Hearing aid trial

You can try different types of hearing aid and assess improvement in symptoms. No one but only you can tell which is best suited for your needs

Step 6: Finalize the device

Best suited hearing aid will be finalized and customized

Step 7: Hearing aid usage and follow up

Wear the hearing aid regularly throughout the day except during sleeping and bathing. Follow all instruction for the maintenance of the device. Follow up with audiologist if any tuning/ servicing needed

For more details contact us on 9606404343.


Dr Shreha Pathak

Consultant ENT Specialist

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