Hearing loss may occur due to various reasons. Old age and exposure to high decibel sound are very common factors that naturally lead to hearing loss. It is to be considered that hearing loss is progressive in nature, increasing with time. However, taking proper care and precautions can delay the damage and preserve much of the hearing in both factors.
What is Presbycusis?
Hearing loss due to aging is termed Presbycusis. It is the cumulative effect of aging on hearing. Presbycusis, one of the most common causes of hearing loss, is also the second most common illness in aged people (next to arthritis). Presently, one out of three aged persons (above age 65) across the world are affected by it. Presbycusis is a sensorineural hearing loss that results from the degeneration of the inner ear auditory nerves and cochlea. In Presbycusis, hearing loss is generally marked or identified at higher frequencies. Hearing loss in old age caused by factors other than normal aging is not Presbycusis.
Most Common Symptoms of Presbycusis:
- Muffled hearing
- Need for increased television/ audio devices volume
- Difficulty understanding speech sound
- Difficulty hearing telephonic voice
Diagnosis & Management: To diagnose Presbycusis, an audiologist conducts hearing screening or multiple hearing tests to determine the type and degree of hearing loss. Since Presbycusis is a sensorineural hearing loss, it cannot be cured completely but can be managed with hearing aids. When worn with proper guidance, hearing aids can improve hearing in old people.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus refers to the buzzing in ears or hearing sound when no external sound is present. Patients affected by Tinnitus often describe the sound as ringing, buzzing, roaring, hiss or clicking. Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom resulting from multiple causes. Noise induced hearing loss is the most common cause and other causes are ear infections, Meniere's disease, disease of heart, brain tumors, ototoxic drugs, head injury, stress, depression and earwax. Patients affected by Tinnitus are prone to depression.
Most Common Symptoms of Tinnitus:
- Noise in the ears/head
- Continuously hearing ringing, buzzing, roaring sound
- Difficulty in hearing
Types of Tinnitus: The two types of Tinnitus are Objective Tinnitus and Subjective Tinnitus. In Objective Tinnitus, the buzzing sound can be heard or detected by other people and in the later, the sound can only be heard by the affected person. Subjective tinnitus is more frequently found and is caused by ear infection, drugs, neurology or otology.
Prevention & Management: Tinnitus can be prevented with precautions like wearing earplugs, avoiding excessive exposure to loud sound and avoiding ototoxic drugs. Generally, in most patients, Tinnitus occurs in association with hearing loss. After the diagnosis, it can be maintained with habituation therapies. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), Tinnitus Masking, hearing aids etc. are most widely used to control Tinnitus.