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Presbycusis (Age-Related Hearing Loss)

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is a progressive loss of the ability to hear high frequencies, which occurs as people get older. The primary symptom is problems understanding speech, especially in the presence of background noise.

It is unknown whether a specific cause, such as long-term exposure to excessive noise, contributes to age-related hearing loss. But it does appear to be a genetic condition, as it tends to occur in families.

The number of nerve cells in the inner ear may begin to decline as early as age 30 or 40, although hearing loss rarely becomes noticeable before age 55. But hearing loss is not necessarily an inevitable part of aging. Many people in their 80s do not have hearing loss.

There is no known cure for age-related hearing loss. Treatment is focused on improving function, such as by using hearing aids.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Charles M. Myer, III, MD - Otolaryngology
Current as of April 8, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.