The term Presbycusis describes a gradual process of hearing loss that occurs because of aging. This disorder is considered a natural part of the aging process and is experienced by approximately thirty-five percent of people between the ages of sixty-five and seventy-five and about half of the people that are over seventy-five.
In most cases, presbycusis disrupts the ability to hear high pitched sounds. This means that a person suffering from presbycusis may hear the sound of an approaching vehicle, but will have a hard time to hear the sound of a flute.
The aging process brings with it changes in the middle ear or in the nerve paths that lead to the brain. One of the things that separate presbycusis from some of the other hearing conditions is the fact that it manifests itself as a gradual process. This means that a lot of aging people may not realize that their hearing is undergoing a gradual deterioration process.
Because of the difficulty in recognizing the condition, a difficulty arising from the fact that it is a gradual process, it is important to develop awareness and be on the lookout for some of the common symptoms. Early recognition can help in improving life quality and slowing down the hearing loss process.
One of the most common symptoms is that sounds will be heard as unclear and low, making it difficult to understand speech.
If you experience the speech of others as slurry and unclear, find it difficult to hear sounds that are high pitched, cannot clearly hear speech when there are background noises, and experience particular sounds as irritating, there is a good chance that you have presbycusis.
An audiologist will be able to help you with your condition by recommending that you avoid certain noise exposures or use earplugs, or fitting you with proper hearing aids. There are also devices that can help you to restore a better quality of life, such as a telephone amplifier, a built-in device that allows people with hearing conditions to conduct normal telephone conversations.
Untreated presbycusis can lead to both mental and physical difficulties. Social isolation and depression are two of the possible outcomes of untreated hearing loss of any kind. Additionally, recent research has indicated that untreated hearing loss can increase the chances of suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, as well as from various heart conditions.