The term presbycusis refers to sensorineural hearing loss in the elderly population. This
hearing loss is bilateral, usually involves the higher frequencies, and is also accompanied
by diminished word discrimination. Although the cause is still not clear, studies have
shown changes related to aging along the inner ear as well as the central nervous system
to be the culprits in this condition.
Approximately 30% of people aged 65-74 years old, and 50% of people ages 75 years and
older, have impaired hearing. There is no race or sex predilection, but some studies have
shown this condition to be more prevalent in
Presbycusis is a diagnosis of exclusion that
should not be made until all other etiologies
of hearing loss have been excluded. The
patient’s history is usually one of progressive
bilateral hearing loss with difficulty
understanding words, especially in noisy
environments. On physical exam, the ear has
Audiometric testing with pure-tone average and speech discrimination are the two most
essential tests for diagnosing presbycusis,
and the need for additional testing can usually be determined from the audiometric test
Presbycusis is not curable and usually progressive; however, there are many ways to help
patients deal with this condition. These include hearing aids, assistive listening devices
and even cochlear implants.
Although not curable, further research into the precise athophysiology of presbycusis
may make it a preventable condition.
If your patient is displaying any symptoms of presbycusis or having any other hearing issues,
the patient should be referred for further evaluation by a qualified hearing specialist.
Call us at 612-339-2836 or toll-free at 866-316-0769 to refer your patient for an appointment, or submit an online referral.