Presbycusis is a sensorineural age related hearing loss that mostly affects higher pitched sounds within adults. This hearing loss occurs over time, affecting both ears at the same time.
There are several different causes for this type of hearing loss:
- Loss of cilia within the cochlea
- loss of neurons
- Atrophy in the stria vascularis causing irregularities with the endolymph
The main risk factor for presbycusis is age, however; a family history, gender, loud noise exposure, diabetes, hypertension, ototoxic medication, and smoking are also risk factors. Regulating exposure to loud noise can decrease the probability of generating this type of hearing loss; however, it is not a cure all.
Patients who exhibit presbycusis may initially not notice the gradual decline of their hearing. Speech sounds become difficult to hear especially in loud environments; however, male voices are easier for patients to hear due to the lower pitch.
Tinnitus is often accompanied with presbycusis as well as an increased risk of dementia. Treating the hearing loss with a hearing aid can decrease the risk of developing dementia
Managing presbycusis includes:
- reducing ambient noise during conversation
- implementing hearing aids to amplify sounds
- cochlear implants
Presbycusis is an irreversible condition so managing and supporting the patient in a multitude of ways is important.