Types of Hearing Loss
Presbycusis (prez-bee-KU-sis) is the most common hearing problem in
older people. In fact, people over age 50 are likely to lose some hearing each year.
Presbycusis is an ongoing loss of hearing linked to changes in the inner ear. People with
this kind of hearing loss may have a hard time hearing what others are saying or may be
unable to stand loud sounds. The decline is slow. Just as hair turns gray at different
rates, presbycusis develops at different rates.
Tinnitus (ti-NI-tus) is also common in older people. Tinnitus is a symptom associated with a variety of hearing diseases and disorders. People with tinnitus have a ringing, roaring, or hear other sounds inside the ears. It may be caused by ear wax, an ear infection, the use of too much aspirin or certain antibiotics, or a nerve disorder. Often, the reason for the ringing cannot be found. Tinnitus can come and go; or it can stop altogether.
Conductive hearing loss happens in some older people when the sounds that are carried from the ear drums (tympanic membrane) to the inner ear are blocked. Ear wax in the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, abnormal bone growth, or a middle ear infection can cause this loss. Sensorineural (sen-so-ree-NU-ral) hearing loss happens when there is damage to parts of the inner ear or auditory nerve. The degree of hearing loss can vary from person to person. Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by birth defects, head injury, tumors, illness, certain prescription drugs, poor blood circulation, high blood pressure, or stroke.
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The information contained in these pages
is for educational / reference use only.
National Institutes of Aging