Age-related hearing loss (or presbycusis) is the gradual loss of hearing in both ears. It’s a common problem linked to aging. One in 3 adults over age 65 has hearing loss. Because of the gradual change in hearing, 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 most often occurs because of changes in the following locations:
Other things that affect age-related hearing loss:
The following are the most common symptoms of age-related hearing loss:
The symptoms of age-related hearing loss may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Your health care provider will use an otoscope, which is a lighted scope, 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, inflammation or infection.
You may be referred to a hearing specialist, 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 to respond if you are able to hear each sound. If a person can’t hear certain tones this suggests there has been some degree of hearing loss.
Your health care provider will figure out the best treatment 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 health care professional can refer you to specialists in hearing loss, such as an:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
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