The course of a presbyacusis can be individually different. In the majority of cases, however, a typical course of the disease can be identified. The onset is usually around the age of fifty and is characterised by a decreasing ability to perceive high frequencies.
Those affected notice this in a decreasing perception of high sounds. Women’s and children’s voices can often be understood less well. Over time, the perception of hearing deteriorates further.
This is a gradual process and therefore often goes unnoticed. Compared to normal healthy people, an increase in the threshold of discomfort from noise is noticeable. A practical example would be television.
Those affected have a significantly higher volume setting at which they can follow a programme well, but which normally healthy people find disturbing or painfully loud. It is not possible to say exactly how far the hearing loss will progress. This depends on individual factors such as other diseases.
Deafness is not to be expected, however. Especially in the advanced stages of senile hearing loss, dark sounds such as a deep voice can often still be understood well. In addition, the timely use of hearing aids promises a significant improvement of the symptoms.
What is the degree of disability for age-related hearing loss?
The degree of disability (GdB) depends on the hearing loss in percent of normal healthy people. The percentage of hearing loss can be determined from a prepared audiogram of the affected person using a 4-frequency table. From a hearing loss of 20-40%, a GdB of 10-20 is assigned.
A 40-60% hearing loss results in a GdB of 30 and a 60-80% hearing loss results in a GdB of 50. For the recognition of a GdB, an expert opinion is required. In addition, factors such as age at the time of the onset of the hearing loss as well as accompanying speech disorders and other disabilities play a role in the calculation of the degree. In general, it is difficult to have a presbyacusis recognised as a degree of disability because it does not affect all frequencies. In pronounced cases, however, it can be credited against other physical disabilities to compensate for disadvantages.
Is there a link between presbyacusis and dementia?
In general, it must be made clear that presbyacusis and dementia are two independent clinical pictures. They can therefore exist independently of the other clinical picture. Both diseases, however, occur more frequently in old age, so that it is not uncommon for them to be present side by side in affected persons. However, dementia does not cause presbyacusis or promote its onset. The same is true for presbyacusis.
Is presbyacusis hereditary?
It has not been proven that presbyacusis is hereditary. Genetic factors are more likely to affect hearing loss that occurs at a young age. The predisposition to presbyacusis is a genetic predisposition.
This circumstance is comparable with all age-related decay processes. For example, all joints of older people, compared to young people, look different according to age. Almost nothing can be done against this aging process. However, when and to what extent the ageing process begins can be influenced by lifestyle and genetic factors.