Presbycusis, a Hearing Declination Problem of the Elderly

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A elderly man with wrinkles on his face. Photo shows only half of his face for decorative purpose.Among the common difficulties encountered by the elderly is the decrease hearing ability problem (presbycusis). The element frequently associated with this hearing function declination is the degeneration of auditory nerve component known as vestibulocochlear and experience by the elderly compared to young which mostly caused by structural problems.

This hearing problem is actually not something that must occur to all of people and at a same level. This is because each person have their own different lifestyle, job, health care, residential and environmental standards. All these background factors can influence the level of hearing declination in the senior age.


Presbycusis is the declination of auditory sense which most often associated with aging process. Statistic published in year 2006 shows 21.1 percent of elderly citizen in Malaysia faced hearing problems. The fact is, this problem is more to aging process of the body physiology. It usually happened in age around 65 years old and it can happen earlier.

Factors which influenced the level of this sensorineural type declination includes hereditary, exposure to extreme and prolonged noise or other systemic disease problem such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hypothyroid and others.

Presbycusis Symptom

Among symptoms when one experience presbycusis is the difficulty to listen especially in noisy environment although sometime the person can listen clearly in quiet condition. They might say that they are able to listen, but they cannot understand anything which being said.

The sound stimulation collection phenomenon or “recruitment” is also often happened; they will suddenly hear a loud voice when the sound tone is slowly increased. Some of patients also come to get treatment only because they hear a noisy sound or “tinnitus” inside their ear or head.

Cross section of ear, ear structure diagram showing auditory canal, eardrum, eustachian tube, tympanum cavity, cochlea and adenoid.Structure of the human ear.

Presbycusis Treatment

  • General Care of Health
    It is important to ensure patients’ general health condition in an optimum level, for example; good control of blood glucose level, their thyroid hormone therapy intake is following the correct dose and what is important is to follow the scheduled appointments all along. This is because the vestibulocochlear nerve is like as other nerves, is risked to complications which involve nerves, as an effect of uncontrolled systemic health problems like diabetes mellitus, hypothyroid, autoimmune disorder, germs infection and others. 
  • Ear and Hearing Examination
    Before trying any treatment methods being proposed, it is better to get an ear specialist doctor’s or audiologist’s view by undergoing ear examination and hearing level measurement. This is because not all patients can be treated by one same treatment.
  • Hearing Aid Device
    The method which is found suitable to help improving hearing level is by using hearing aid device. Perhaps many think that by wearing this device, it would expose their weakness to the public. This is because the type of hearing aid device they usually knew is the older type and not user friendly.In line with current technological enhancement, there are various forms and kinds of hearing aid device that can be found in the market today. Among the often used type is hearing aid device behind the ear, inside the ear, inside the ear canal and fully inside the ear canal.

Hearing problem within the elderly citizen group is a not a rare thing. Usually, it caused by the decline of auditory nerve function in parallel of the body’s physiological change in aging process. Doctor’s checkup is very needed to ensure that there is no other problem which becomes the cause of the hearing decline.

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