Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)

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What is age-related hearing loss?

Age-related hearing loss (or presbycusis) is a form of hearing loss that occurs gradually during the aging process. Usually, this type of hearing loss affects both ears. Depending on certain factors, age-related hearing loss can start in a person's thirties or forties and usually increases gradually over time.

It is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults.

Help someone with hearing loss

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Book a free test for age-related hearing loss

Schedule a free hearing test to find out if you have presbycusis. We can explain your condition and suggest treatment options.
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What causes age-related hearing loss?

The main cause of age-related hearing loss is aging. Most commonly, it arises due to changes in the inner ear as you grow older. The factors that can have an influence on age-related hearing loss are the following:

  • Genes
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Side effects of certain drugs and medications
  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Repeated exposure to loud noises

Causes of hearing loss

Did you know?

While men are more likely to develop a hearing loss in higher frequencies, women often have hearing loss in lower frequencies.

The frequency of your hearing loss refers to whether you are having trouble hearing high-pitched or low-pitched sounds.

High-frequency hearing loss

Low-frequency hearing loss

6 common signs and symptoms of age-related hearing loss

The signs and symptoms of age-related hearing loss can vary from person to person, but some of the most common symptoms include the following:

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1. You have difficulty following group conversations (especially when background noise is present)
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2. You have trouble understanding speech communicated over loudspeakers in public places - such as in an airport or at work
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3. Loud noises are more irritating than they used to be
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4. Sounds seem unclear or people sound like they are mumbling
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5. Low-pitched voices seem easier to hear than high-pitched voices
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6. You hear ringing or buzzing sounds in your ears (called tinnitus)
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How is age-related hearing loss treated?

The best treatment option for someone with age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) will depend on the person's overall health, age and the severity of the hearing loss.

The most common treatment for age-related hearing loss is hearing aids, but the treatment may also include using assistive devices and / or learning lip reading techniques.


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How can you protect your hearing as you age?

Since age-related hearing loss is irreversible, prevention is important. Below are some of the most effective ways to prevent it:

  • Avoid (or reduce exposure to) excessively loud noises
  • Avoid smoking
  • Seek treatment for hearing health conditions (such as ear infections)
  • Wear ear protection in loud environments (ear plugs, earmuffs)

Hearing loss and dementia

FAQ about age-related hearing loss