Age-related Hearing Loss (presbycusis)

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)

From a presbycusis (presbycusis) affected patients are mostly over 50 years old or older and have a decreased hearing in the higher frequency ranges. The affected patients usually hear particularly poorly in situations with strong background noise. The best treatment option for this disease is a hearing aid that is individually adapted to the patient , which can compensate for the presbycusis.

What is senile hearing loss?

According to GROWTHEOLOGY.COM, a hearing test or audiometry is used to diagnose diseases of the hearing organs. Typical fields of application are incipient hearing loss or age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) .

Aging hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, primarily affects people who are over 50 years old or older.

In most cases, age-related hearing loss affects both ears equally and relates to the higher frequency ranges of hearing. Affected patients usually find it difficult to follow conversations in which there are loud noises in the background.

In the course of the disease, the hearing ability of the affected patient continues to decline. Presbycusis is an inner ear hearing loss that affects the organ of Corti. So far there are no cures for old age hearing loss.

Causes

The main causes of presbycusis are aging processes in the human ear, which have a negative impact on the hearing ability of the affected patient. There are also numerous factors that can have a positive effect on the development of age-related hearing loss. These can be inside the human body or outside.

These influencing factors include, for example, diseases such as diabetes mellitus , high blood pressure or circulatory disorders . Affected patients also often have a genetic predisposition to develop old-age hearing loss.

Doctors see further causes for the development of presbycusis in the diet of the affected patient, in stimulant drugs such as nicotine , in excessive noise pollution or in the use of medication. These influencing factors can have a negative effect on the organ of Corti in the human inner ear, which causes senile hearing loss.

Symptoms, ailments & signs

In most cases, senile hearing loss can be avoided and occurs in almost all people at an advanced age. The age-related hearing loss is usually associated with clear symptoms that have a negative effect on the hearing ability of the person affected. With this disease, patients suffer from hearing loss and can no longer actively participate in conversations.

Even normal listening to the radio or television is no longer possible. In severe cases, it can also lead to complete deafness. Word comprehension also decreases significantly due to old-age hearing loss. Often this hearing loss is also associated with ringing in the ears, so that the patients suffer from tinnitus .

These noises in the ears have a very negative effect on the patient’s quality of life and can also lead to depression or irritability . Often, however, the age-related hearing loss can be alleviated through the use of hearing aids. Symptoms usually get worse over time, so the patient’s hearing ability continues to deteriorate. Loud noises continue to damage the ears, especially without using a hearing aid. Furthermore, this disease does not have a negative effect on the general health of the patient.

Diagnosis & course

In order to diagnose age-related hearing loss, the affected patient should contact an ear, nose and throat specialist if symptoms are present. He or she will first ask carefully in which situations the hearing loss occurs, in order to check whether the patient’s symptoms match those of presbycusis.

An indication that it is actually an age-related hearing loss is, for example, reduced hearing ability in the higher frequency ranges or with strong background noises. The ENT doctor checks this with the help of a tone audiogram. Typically, both ears are affected equally by the hearing loss in presbycusis. In addition, there are factors such as the age of the patient or existing diseases, which are known to be the causes of presbycusis.

In addition to old-age hearing loss, many patients also complain of noises in the ears, which is also known as tinnitus. It can be assumed that the hearing ability of the patient with age-related hearing loss continues to deteriorate with increasing age.

Complications

Age-related hearing loss is a common symptom. It cannot be treated in most cases and occurs in almost all people in old age. Direct treatment of the eardrum is not possible. However, those affected can use a hearing aid to amplify certain sounds and to be able to hear better.

As a rule, there are no further complications or complaints when wearing a hearing aid, so that these hearing aids can be used without restriction. If the person concerned does not use a hearing aid, the age-related hearing loss will usually increase. This is because patients often keep increasing the volume of devices as they hear poorly.

However, this further damages the eardrum, so that the age-related hearing loss increases. Often a normal everyday life is no longer possible for the patients, so that they have to rely on the help of strangers. As a result, the quality of life decreases sharply.

In order to avoid senile hearing loss, people should not unnecessarily expose their ears to loud noises in the long term. Also, music should only be heard at a correspondingly healthy level in order not to damage the eardrum. It is advisable to use a hearing aid very early on so that the age-related hearing loss does not increase any further.

When should you go to the doctor?

Increasing age-related hearing loss is a natural problem that occurs gradually. However, nobody has to accept the associated hearing loss as fate-related. Those affected should see a doctor as soon as the hearing loss begins. A specialist in ear, nose and throat diseases is the right contact. The specialist in ENT diseases can determine the present degree of hearing loss by means of various tests.

It is also important to know all existing comorbidities of old age in order to be able to assess the progression of the hearing loss. The increasing progression of hearing loss, if left untreated, carries the risk of social isolation. Therefore, it is all the more important to see a doctor early on. If possible, those affected should continue to be able to actively participate in life. In most cases, fitting a hearing aid is essential for this. Alternatively, hearing training can first be initiated by the ENT doctor .

The presbycusis can be largely eliminated by fitting and using a modern hearing aid, at least initially. However, the hearing aids change the listening experience. The ear and the brain first have to get used to the new background noise. The hearing aid acoustician will adjust the hearing aid to the patient based on the doctor’s prescription in the event of age-related hearing loss. He can later adapt the devices to changed conditions.

In the case of presbycusis, however, it is also important that existing internal diseases are also treated. Some conditions can make age-related hearing loss worse.

Treatment & Therapy

Depending on how much the elderly hearing loss affects the affected patient, most doctors recommend an individually fitted hearing aid .

Especially in older people who already have severely impaired hearing, the prescription of a hearing aid is often successful and helps to improve the quality of life. The hearing aid should be fitted by an experienced hearing care professional in order to achieve effective hearing improvement.

Of course, the further course of the presbycusis will be checked regularly by the treating ear, nose and throat doctor. So far there is no scientifically proven way to treat age-related hearing loss with medication. However, there are various drug methods available to the attending physician that can slow the progression of the disease.

Since presbycusis often occurs in combination with noises in the ears (tinnitus), it can make sense to treat this with the help of a tinnitus noiser, for example. In this way, a significant improvement in the quality of life and hearing ability can be achieved in the case of age-related hearing loss.

Outlook & forecast

Aging hearing loss is a dangerous symptom and usually occurs in most people at an advanced age. Unfortunately, it is not possible to treat the age-related hearing loss causally, so that the symptoms can be alleviated and limited in some cases with the help of hearing aids or other hearing aids.

In the worst case, the old age hearing loss can also develop into complete deafness, so that the person affected is significantly restricted in his everyday life. Sometimes the onset of old-age hearing loss or deafness can lead to psychological complaints or even depression . The patients are often dependent on the help of other people in their everyday life in order to be able to continue to cope with it.

The patient’s quality of life decreases significantly as a result of this disease, although life expectancy itself is not affected.

Age-related hearing loss can only be treated to a limited extent. In some cases, it progresses without putting too much strain on the ears and cannot be stopped. With the help of hearing aids, however, the everyday life of those affected can be made easier. Learning a sign language can also be useful for some patients.

Prevention

There are known factors that can contribute to the development of old age hearing loss, which should be avoided as a preventive measure. It is therefore advisable not to permanently or constantly expose yourself to high levels of noise or, if necessary, to wear earplugs if, for example, noise cannot be avoided at work. A healthy diet and the avoidance of stimulants such as nicotine also help to prevent presbycusis.

Aftercare

Old age hearing loss cannot be cured. Follow-up care cannot therefore aim to prevent the disease from recurring. Rather, it is about maintaining quality of life and eliminating complications. The right specialist for any necessary aftercare is the ear, nose and throat doctor.

Follow-up treatment often takes place after receiving a hearing aid. The disease is progressing, so adjustments are necessary. The doctor primarily uses an audiogram for this. Sounds and conversations are played to a patient through headphones at different volumes. Only in rare cases do those affected continue to be exposed to strong and harmful background noise.

In follow-up care, doctors discuss these causes and, if necessary, point out how to remedy them. If the hearing ability increasingly deteriorates, psycho-social complaints sometimes occur. Making contact with other people is difficult. Older people in particular then need help to escape isolation. Psychotherapy can then be useful.

Follow-up care for old age hearing loss helps prevent hearing loss. As the hearing loss progresses in many of those affected, follow-up care is useful. The treating ear, nose and throat doctor decides on the rhythm.

You can do that yourself

Coping with everyday life and self-help play an important role in senile hearing loss because the decline in hearing is largely due to a central hearing loss, i.e. a reduction in the signal processing of the hearing centers in the brain. Just as targeted training can be used in old age to maintain and improve cognitive abilities, specialized hearing training as self-help is also an important measure for those affected to improve their central hearing ability again.

This includes, for example, the conscious inclusion of visual impressions such as lip movements and body language of the conversation partner. The hearing training can also be carried out as you get used to a modern hearing aid , which can use computer technology to actively filter and “process” incoming noises so that further processing in the brain is a little easier. Above all, this allows speech content to be understood better again because foreign noises are largely muffled and it is easier for the brain to practice recognizing speech content again.

Other important self-help measures consist of a healthy, balanced diet that contains natural components rich in vitamins and enzymes with an antioxidant effect, in order to ensure an optimal supply of the brain. People in the closest social circle should discuss the problems of hearing loss with the person affected and determine behaviors that help the hearing impaired to remain a full member of the social community.

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)