If you suffer from age-related hearing loss, you may have symptoms including:
- Having a hard time hearing people in groups
- Asking people to repeat themselves
- Being frustrated by not hearing well
- Having some sounds seeming very loud
- Having a hard time hearing people with high-pitched voices
- Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
Specific symptoms can be different from person to person, and you might have other symptoms not listed here. Presbycusis tends to get worse as you age, so these symptoms might not bother you right away.
See a doctor if you often have a hard time hearing, have ringing in your ears, or if you experience a lot of hearing-related frustration.
Some symptoms can be a sign of a different or more serious condition that might require more treatment or testing, like Ménière’s disease. Contact your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms along with hearing loss:
- Vision changing
- Ear noises that start after you hurt your head
- Consistent noise in one ear over a long period of time
There isn’t a single cause of age-related hearing loss. Some hearing loss is normal as you get older because your inner ear changes and the hair cells that help you hear can weaken and die. Some specific factors that can cause hearing loss or increase your risk for presbycusis include:
- Illnesses like diabetes or heart disease
- Some medicines, like chemotherapy or certain antibiotics
- Loud noises from concerts or headphones
- Genetics or a family history of hearing loss
Your healthcare provider will do an examination of your ear with a lighted scope. They will look for damage to your eardrum, objects or wax stuck in the ear, or any swelling or infections that may be causing the hearing loss.
They may refer you to an audiologist, a doctor who specializes in hearing problems, to give you a test called an audiogram [AW-dee-uh-gram]. In the test, sounds are played through headphones to see how well you can hear. If there are some tones you can’t hear, you may have hearing loss.
Presbycusis can’t be cured, but it can be treated so that you can function well in day-to-day life.Some treatment options include:
- Hearing aids. An electronic device that fits into or around your ear to improve hearing.
- Amplifiers and other devices to make it easier to hear.
- Sign language. A way to communicate using gesture of the hands and arms. It is a very useful way to communicate for people who are deaf or have severe hearing loss.
- Lip or speech reading. Learning to tell what a person is saying based on the way their lips or mouth move.
- Surgery. Cochlear implants and other surgical implants can help people with severe hearing loss.
Tinnitus, or a ringing, roaring, or rushing in the ears, often goes along with age-related hearing loss. Tinnitus may be treated with:
- Helping noise blend into the background. Use white noise machines, a fan, or an appliance like a dishwasher or washing machine to help the noise in your ears blend into the background.
- Getting enough sleep. Sleep helps to reduce symptoms of tinnitus.
- Avoiding things that may make tinnitus worse. Generally, this includes caffeine, alcohol, or smoking.
- Protecting your ears. Protect your hearing by avoiding places with lots of loud noise. Wear ear plugs or ear muffs to keep your hearing safe.
The best way to keep your ears healthy and safe is to prevent them from being exposed to loud noises for a long period of time. Ear plugs can prevent hearing loss if you work in a place with lots of loud noises, like a warehouse or a factory.
Presbycusis [PREZ-bi-KYOO-sis] is hearing loss that comes with aging. As you get older, the tiny hair cells in your inner ear that help you hear may become damaged or die. These cells can’t grow back, so if they are damaged, hearing loss can’t be cured. Hearing loss can happen because of damage to cells in different parts of the ear, such as the:
- Inner ear
- Middle ear
- Nerves that lead to the brain from the ear
Presbycusis is a common problem in older people. It can be hard to detect at first, because hearing is lost gradually over time. In some cases, it can lead to deafness, which means you can’t hear at all.
Hearing loss can also hurt your social life and make it hard to talk to other people. Sign language and speech reading can help with these problems.
Treatments for presbycusis include hearing aids, amplifiers or other devices that help sounds be louder, or surgical implants in severe cases.
Presbycusis may be caused by, or come with, other conditions present in the ear, such as:
- Tinnitus [ti-NAHY-tuhs]. A ringing or roaring sound in the ears.
- Ménière’s [meyn-YAIRZ] disease. A disease that causes hearing loss, sudden, severe dizziness, or a roaring sound in the ears. It usually affects only one ear.
- Osteomyelitis [os-tee-oh-mahy-uh-LAHY-tis]. A bone infection caused by bacteria, fungi, or other germs.