Presbycusis and Hearing Loss


Presbycusis is a gradual hearing loss on both ears that usually occurs in older people as they age. This type of progressive hearing loss can be mild, moderate or severe. Presbycusis that induces permanent hearing loss may be referred to as nerve hearing loss.

The Ear, Hearing and Presbycusis

Presbycusis is generally associated with sensorineural hearing disorder. It is caused commonly by the gradual changes in the inner ear (as we age).

There are lots of factors which collectively contribute to hearing loss as one age. It can be complicated to differentiate age-related hearing loss that can occur due to other reasons, like long term exposure to loud noises or illness.

Conditions those are more prevalent as people age, like diabetes, high blood pressure etc, can contribute to hearing loss. Medications (drugs) that are toxic to the sensory nerve cells in your ears (like some chemotherapy drugs) can also result in hearing loss.

Abnormalities of the outer or middle ear can hardly cause any age related hearing loss. Such abnormalities may include depleted function of the tympanic membrane (eardrum) or reduced function of the three tiny bones (ossicles) in the middle ear that conducts sound waves from tympanic membrane to cochlea (inner ear).

Usually older people have a combination of age related hearing loss along with noise induced hearing loss.


Onset of the hearing loss due to old age can be prevented or delayed by taking good care of your ear. Following measure can be taken to ensure good health of ear:

  • Try to protect your ears from loud sounds.
  • Do not ever try to inset anything into your ear or instil liquids, other than the prescribed medications by your doctor or trained health care personnel.
  • Seek urgent medical attention in case of any pain in the ear or discharge from the ear.
  • Try living a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy food and exercising. This will help avoid diseases like hypertension and diabetes that can facilitate the development of hearing loss.
  • Avoid cigarette smoking.

In certain situations, some of the assisted listening devices can provide further improvement in hearing abilities by amplifying the sound, for example built in telephone amplifier. Some other devices like FM systems can make sound clearer by delivering sound waves like radio. People with presbycusis can benefit from the training in speech reading (lip reading using visual suggestions to determine what is being spoken) to understand better what is being said in the conversations, discussions or presentations.