Age related hearing loss is medically known as presbycusis. It develops as a consequence of cumulative effects of the process of aging on one's auditory system. In elderly people the aging process is blamed for gradual deterioration in general, meaning that all organs and organs system fail to perform their function as they used to once the person was young.
Even though some elderly people adjust to gradual hearing loss, others find the condition rather frustrating and irritating. This is the reason why presbycusis in many elderly individuals may cause loneliness, anger or depression.More about Presbycusis
The condition affects both ears. It is estimates that approximately half of all people older than 60 years of age develop the condition. This explains why presbycusis is considered the second most common cause of disability in this group of people.
In the majority of cases hearing loss develops as a consequence of degeneration of the inner ear, to be more precise the area of the inner ear containing microscopic blood vessels. There are additional changes to hair cells accompanied by loss of these cells and further hearing problems.
Older people in the beginning develop problems regarding understanding women and children while they remain the ability to understand the low pitched male voices. So, the higher pitched consonants that give clearness to speech are initially either missing or distorted. Progression of the disease makes it more difficult to understand speech.
Even though presbycusis generally develops due to the very process of aging, the condition is more frequent in individuals who are genetically predisposed. Diet and lifestyle play additional roles in the onset of such hearing loss. Several more contributing factors are exposure to noise in earlier life, a history of ear infections and intake of certain ototoxic drugs.
Presbycusis Treatment Options
Even though presbycusis is practically incurable, it may be treated and negative effects of the condition at least postponed for a while.
Treatment for presbycusis in the majority of cases includes appropriate hearing aids. A well experienced doctor will suggest the type of hearing aid most suitable for each patient. This is only a partial solutions of the problem.
Reduced or completely lost speech discrimination can be dealt with learning lipreading. Presbycusis patients are suggested to attend lipreading classes and this way continue communication with people from their surrounding.
Those who cannot deal with hearing loss they inevitable developed may refuse to maintain any social contact, become isolated and depressed. These issues require additional treatments and cam be detrimental for both, patients as well as their families.