Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is a progressive loss of the
ability to hear high frequencies, which occurs as people get older. The primary
symptom is problems understanding speech, especially in the presence of
It is unknown whether a specific cause, such as long-term exposure
to excessive noise, contributes to age-related hearing loss. But it
does appear to be a genetic condition, as it tends to occur in families.
The number of nerve cells in the inner ear may begin to decline as
early as age 30 or 40, although hearing loss rarely becomes noticeable before
age 55. But hearing loss is not necessarily an inevitable part of aging.
Many people in their 80s do not have hearing loss.
There is no known cure for age-related hearing loss. Treatment is
focused on improving function, such as by using hearing aids.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Charles M. Myer, III, MD - Otolaryngology
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