Age-associated hearing loss explained
Presbycusis is a slowly progressing sensorineural hearing loss. It always affects both ears to the same degree, and usually starts at the age of 50. One characteristic of presbycusis is that sounds within the high-frequency range are significantly impacted (more so at the start of the illness) more than deeper sounds.
Consequently, speech intelligibility is hampered more severely than the capacity to hear sounds – especially when impaired hearing is subjected to an intensely noisy environment. Doctors use the term “cocktail party effect” to refer to the ability to focus on a single speaker or conversation in a noisy setting. In other words, if a person can hear what someone is saying in a crowded, noisy party, even if they are half way across the room, it is more than likely that he or she is experiencing the cocktail party effect.
Causes of presbycusis
Presbycusis develops for a number of reasons, some of which include a wide range of ear disorders. Damaging external influences also play a significant role. Typically, these are patients who have been frequently subjected to blaring noise throughout their lives. Another possible cause is certain medications, commonly referred to as ototoxic medication, that can damage the ear in the long run.