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Understanding How to Treat Presbycusis

elderly patient in blue shirt cupping hand to ear

Presbycusis is the medical term for age-related hearing loss. It affects nearly a third of people over 65. Taking care of your ears can help to delay or even prevent the onset of presbycusis. If, however, you do find yourself diagnosed with presbycusis, then a hearing health professional will be able to treat it for you.

The Basics of Presbycusis

Fundamentally, presbycusis is the result of wear and tear on the hearing organs. It is often simply a natural part of the aging process. There are, however, some other factors that can increase the likelihood of a person developing presbycusis.

Genetics can play a role as can certain medical conditions and certain medications. Lifestyle can also be a factor. Exposure to excessive noise can lead to sensorineural damage in your ears. This can in turn lead to you developing presbycusis. This is one of the many reasons it’s important to take ear protection seriously.

The Experience of Presbycusis

As presbycusis typically develops gradually, it can be very difficult for you to detect the symptoms yourself. If, however, you are having regular hearing tests, your hearing care provider will detect the early signs of hearing loss. If you are not having regular hearing tests, the symptoms of presbycusis might become quite advanced before you identify them.

In the early stages of presbycusis, you are likely to start to find it difficult to hear speech clearly. This is particularly likely if people have higher-pitched voices, for example, children. You might also have difficulty hearing sibilants like sh and th. Background noise will become more of an issue for you and certain sounds may become irritating.

There is also a link between tinnitus and presbycusis. That said, it’s important to be aware that tinnitus can be caused by a variety of other factors. A hearing health professional will be able to investigate the issue and recommend a treatment for you.

How to treat presbycusis

There are several treatments that can, in principle, be used to treat presbycusis. In practice, by far the most common is to use a hearing aid. There are two main reasons why hearing aids are generally the preferred option for treating presbycusis.

Firstly, they are simple to use. There is generally a learning curve for adapting to them.  It is, however, usually a gentle one. Other approaches, such as learning to read lips are a lot more challenging. This means that they may not be suitable for everyone. What’s more, even if you are up for the challenge, it can take quite a while before you get meaningful results.

Secondly, they’re within the individual’s control. Once you’ve received your hearing aid, it’s always there when you want it. That means you don’t have to rely on other people offering assistive listening devices.

What’s more, a hearing aid can be customized to your exact needs. In simple terms, it will only do what you need it to do, no less and no more. This encourages your ear to go on processing sound as much as it can and hence to preserve your remaining hearing.