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Age-Related Hearing Loss Symptoms & Diagnosis


If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to presbycusis. These symptoms may be caused by other health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.

  • Noticeable loss of hearing of higher-pitched sounds, such as female voices, telephone ringing, or bird calls
  • Sounds appear less clear and sharp
  • Difficulty understanding conversations, particularly in noisy places or while speaking on the telephone
  • Ringing in one or both ears, a condition called tinnitus
  • Background sounds appear overly loud or bothersome
  • Ear fullness with or without dizziness

With presbycusis, hearing loss is usually very gradual, affecting both ears equally.


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam of your ear canal and eardrum with a lighted instrument called an otoscope. You will probably need to see a specialist, including an otolaryngologist, a doctor specially trained in disorders of the ear, nose, and throat. You may also see an audiologist who can do a complete hearing evaluation to determine the extent of hearing loss. Your primary care doctor can help refer you to an otolaryngologist, who often works in association with an audiologist.

Tests may include the following:

  • Rinne test—involves a vibrating tuning fork placed on the bone behind your ear to test for hearing loss
  • Weber test—a tuning fork is placed on the forehead to determine one-sided hearing loss
  • Audiometry —wearing headphones and listening for different tones, which vary in pitch and loudness

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Age-Related Hearing Loss Guide

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