Age-Related Hearing Loss

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) most often occurs in both ears, affecting them equally. Because the loss is gradual, you may not realize that you’ve lost some of your ability to hear. Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand and follow a doctor’s advice, respond to warnings, and hear phones, doorbells, and smoke alarms. Hearing loss can also make it hard to enjoy talking with family and friends, leading to feelings of isolation.

Most commonly, it arises from changes in the inner ear as we age, but it can also result from changes in the middle ear, or from complex changes along the nerve pathways from the ear to the brain. Certain medical conditions and medications may also play a role. Most older people who experience hearing loss have a combination of both age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss. (



Aging affects the perception of the high frequency sounds first more than low, and men more than women.  Hearing those high-pitched sounds becomes even more difficult in the presence of noise.



The following symptoms may indicate that an adult should have their hearing checked by a professional:

  • Occasionally thinking others are mumbling or speaking too softly
  • Having trouble hearing over the phone
  • Inappropriately responding to others after misunderstanding what was said
  • Frequently being told that your TV or radio is too loud
  • Constant roaring, ringing, or hissing in your ears (see Tinnitus)
  • Finding it difficult to hear or understand conversations with more than two people
  • Needing others to repeat themselves regularly
  • Avoiding crowded places and restaurants because of difficulty hearing

Untreated hearing loss increases risk of dementia, depression, falls, memory and balance issues.

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