Age-Related Hearing Loss: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment

Age-related hearing loss (or presbycusis) creates a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Hearing loss in older adults affects their ability to communicate and understand speech. This may further lead to social isolation, depression, cognitive impairment, and loss of self-esteem. You can monitor your hearing by scheduling regular visits to an audiologist. They will evaluate your hearing and recommend the best treatment to help overcome your hearing problem.

Presbycusis is a common disorder associated with aging. Men are more likely to have hearing loss than women. Statistics reveal that 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54, 8.5 percent of adults aged 55 to 64, 25 percent of adults aged 65 to 74, and 50 percent of adults aged 75 and older have hearing loss.

How Does Aging Cause Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss often begins when you are in your thirties or forties and worsens over time. As the hearing loss is gradual, you may not realize it until it worsens. A combination of lifestyle, genetic, and environmental factors gradually wear down your ears' delicate mechanics.

Factors that cause hearing loss include:

  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Use of certain medications such as chemotherapy drugs, aspirin, malaria drugs, etc.
  • Diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure
  • Trauma
  • Infection or ear wax
  • Impairment in the nerves responsible for hearing
  • Changes in the structures of the inner ear
  • Changes in the blood flow to the ear

Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Older Adults

Hearing loss often develops slowly over time, so you may not know that you have a problem. As long as you can hear some sounds, you think that your hearing is fine. Symptoms of age-related hearing loss often begin with difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds and vary depending on the degree of hearing loss.

Levels of hearing loss include:

  • Mild Hearing Loss –Difficulty in understanding conversations when there is background noise.
  • Moderate Hearing Loss – You may ask people to repeat conversations in person and on the phone, even in quiet situations.
  • Severe Hearing Loss – Hearing becomes very difficult without a hearing aid.
  • Profound Hearing Loss – Hearing and understanding conversations is nearly impossible. Even hearing aids and other assistive listening devices may not completely restore hearing.

You may experience other symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty following a conversation when more than one person speaks
  • Increasing the volume of the TV or radio beyond normal
  • Ringing, hissing, or roaring sounds in your ears
  • Difficulty hearing the voice of children or females
  • Certain sounds seem extremely loud

Diagnosis and Treatment of Age-Related Hearing Loss

Visit your health care provider as soon as you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms. They will use an otoscope to check whether there is any damage in the eardrum or blockage in the ear canal due to ear wax, inflammation, or infection. They will refer you to an audiologist if your condition is worse. The audiologist will perform a hearing test to determine the degree of your hearing loss and recommend the suitable hearing aid or treatment accordingly.

Your audiologist may perform one of these tests to diagnose your hearing loss:

  • Traditional pure tone test
  • Bone conduction test
  • Speech recognition test
  • Speech in noise test
  • Tympanometry test

The type of treatment you will require to overcome your hearing loss varies depending on your age and the degree of hearing loss you have. Hearing aids are considered the best solution for most types of hearing loss. Even adults aged 70 and older can benefit from wearing hearing aids. There are different types of hearing aids to select from. Discuss your options with your audiologist and choose the one that suits your lifestyle, hearing ability, and budget.

Tips to Help You Get the Most from a Visit to Your Audiologist

  • Before your visit, write down the questions you want to ask your audiologist.
  • Bring someone with you to help you remember the details your audiologist tells you.
  • During the visit, note down the names of new tests, treatments, medicines, or instructions your audiologist gives you.
  • If you have a follow-up visit, write down the date, time, and purpose of the visit.
  • Know how to contact your audiologist if you have any questions.

Call us at 949-536-5180 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chris Hoffmann to receive the best hearing care treatment in Irvine.


Chris Lin Hoffmann

Dr. Chris Hoffmann is an audiologist who has been involved in hearing sciences for over 20 years. Her passion for helping people with their hearing led her to establish Hoffmann Audiology hearing clinic. Dr. Hoffmann has more than 14 years of clinical knowledge in hearing testing, hearing aid fittings, and aural rehabilitation.