Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs as a result of our body’s aging process. It is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults. There are many causes of age-related hearing loss. Most commonly, it arises from changes in the inner ear as we age, but it can also result from changes in the middle ear, from complex changes along the nerve pathways from the ear to the brain, or from the cumulative effects of long-term noise exposure. Hearing loss can also be caused by viral or bacterial infections, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumors, and certain medicines, as well as continued and prolonged exposure to noise.
Age-related hearing loss most often occurs in both ears, affecting them equally. Because the loss is gradual, if you have age-related hearing loss you may not realize that you’ve lost some of your ability to hear.
Sources: NIDCD; NIH Senior Health; Hearing Health magazine, Summer 2015 issue.