Presbycusis is a common type of hearing loss that occurs gradually in people as they age. Known as a type of progressive sensorineural hearing loss, the condition can be caused by abnormalities in hair cells in the Organ of Corti, found in the cochlea in the inner ear.
There are various factors which can contribute to Presbycusis. One of the main factors is gradual changes in the inner ear which occur as you age, as well as changes in the middle ear or alterations along the nerve pathways which lead to the brain. Although this hearing loss is most generally associated with ageing, prolonged exposure to loud noise can exacerbate the condition or impact on how soon hearing loss becomes apparent. Additionally, a loss in hair cells can cause this type of hearing impairment. A loss of hair cells is often hereditary, as well as being caused by ageing, certain health conditions and a side effect of particular medicines, such as aspirin.
So how can you tell if you have Presbycusis?
Sounds which are higher in pitch can often be the most difficult to hear if you are suffering from Presbycusis, as well as sounds seeming quieter and less clear. This means that you may find that a woman's voice is harder to hear than a man's, because it may be higher in pitch. You may also find that you are struggling to hear conversations, especially if there's background noise. Tinnitus; commonly a ringing noise in the ear can also sometimes be a sign of this type of hearing loss.
With hearing loss that occurs gradually and in both ears, like Presbycusis, it can often be difficult to notice if your hearing has recently declined. If you know someone who is experiencing symptoms such as those mentioned above, there are a number of steps you can take to help them. During conversations, try turning the television or radio off to minimise the amount of background noise. If you are in a crowded cafe; or restaurant, choosing seats which are in a quieter area could help you have conversations with less difficulty. Similarly, making sure you are facing the person when you are speaking can help them to follow conversations more easily.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of Presbycusis, or know someone who is, perhaps one of the most important steps to take is to have a hearing test. A hearing test with Hidden Hearing will analyse your current level of hearing and guide you through the next steps. The simple step of having a hearing aid fitted could make a huge difference to your life. It can make all sounds clearer and easier to hear, so you can go about your daily life as normal without the impact of hearing loss.