Presbycusis: Reduced Hearing

The human ears can no longer hear the sounds lying in the high frequency zone but are audible to humans with aging of people. The more the age, the more difficult it becomes to hear sound of frequencies above 10 kHz although human ear is capable of hearing sounds up to 20 kHz and even a little higher in exceptional cases. The onset of such decline starts from the age of 20 and gets worse with advancing age.

The Reality

The human ears can no longer hear the sounds lying in the high frequency zone but are audible to humans with aging of people. The more the age, the more difficult it becomes to hear sound of frequencies above 10 kHz although human ear is capable of hearing sounds up to 20 kHz and even a little higher in exceptional cases. The onset of such decline starts from the age of 20 and gets worse with advancing age. This condition in humans is medically termed as ‘Presbycusis’. The reality is for the aged people the higher frequency sounds are as good or bad as silence.

Causes

The causes for presbycusis are many including hereditary reasons. The faster the cochlea in human ears ages, faster is the effect of presbycusis. Also ‘Atherosclerosis’ that causes depletion of oxygen supply to cochlea speeds up aging of cochlea and faster presbycusis. Intake of high proportion of fats with diet increases the chance of atherosclerosis and consequent presbycusis. Supply of blood to blood vessels of cochlea gets reduced with diabetes as well as smoking which are also causing factors. The process of presbycusis accelerates if one is suffering from hypertension or exposed continuously to noise that stresses out the cochlea. Aspirin is believed to have effects of expediting presbycusis.

Symptoms

As people age the process of presbycusis diminishes their hearing. The basic symptoms are the fading of the sounds both in terms of volume and clarity. Hearing becomes difficult and the words from other people tend to sound less distinct. Hearing and differentiating high pitched sounds especially become more difficult. Even the slightest noise in the background makes hearing others inconvenient. Sounds from women’s voices are of higher frequency and are therefore more difficult to hear than men’s voices. Presbycusis is more pronounced for high frequency sounds.

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