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77 years old. Have high frequency hearing loss. How to improve the situation?

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I am 77 years old and in excellent health for my age. As I've aged, my high frequency hearing has slowly gotten worse and is now degraded to the point that I have trouble understanding speech in noisy environments. What interests me is the following: if I hold my nose and blow to build up pressure to the point where one or both ears "pop", I notice a brief but significant improvement in my high frequency hearing. If I do this experiment when in the shower, my hearing of the high frequency sound of the running water improves dramatically but the effect usually lasts only a few seconds. I experience the same effect with speech in noisy restaurants. Does what I've described give you a clue as to what I can do to improve my high frequency hearing on a continuing basis?
Posted Wed, 12 Dec 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
 
 
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 1 hour later
Hi

Thanks for posting the answer

All the symptoms perceived by you are the features of Presbycusis.

Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is often first noticed when attempting to hear higher frequencies. This is a progressive, usually bilateral, sensorineural hearing loss that occurs in older people as they age. It is a multifactorial process driven by environmental factors and exacerbated by concurrent disease.

One of the main causes of presbycusis is environmental noise. Daily exposure to certain types of loud sounds such as music, construction work, or firearms can be a contributing factor. Other causes include genetic, diet and dietary conditions such as diabetes.

While currently there is no medical cure available for age-related hearing loss. Use of hearing aids has shown some promise in many of the individuals suffering from this.

Other causes of hearing loss such as wax in the ear, middle ear infections, otosclerosis, etc. has to be ruled out before making a diagnosis. I would suggest you to consult a good ENT specialist for a thorough ear examination and a complete audiological examination.

Hope I have answered your query; I will be available for the follow-up queries.

Regards
Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: 77 years old. Have high frequency hearing loss. How to improve the situation? 14 hours later
I gather, from what you've written, that over the years, accumulating damage to the inner ear's hearing mechanism has occurred, making my ears less sensitive (at least to high frequencies). Can I assume, then, that if I'd tried holding my nose and increasing pressure many years ago, I would have noticed the same increase in high frequency hearing? In the present situation, since pressure does make a difference, would a decongestant or some other drug alter the geometry of my nasal passages and help?
 
 
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 10 hours later
Hi

Thanks for writing back

I did make a provisional diagnosis based on the symptoms described by you, as majority of them were the features of Presbycusis. But, without examining the ear and performing audiological evaluation it is difficult to conclude the same.

Q: Can I assume, then, that if I'd tried holding my nose and increasing pressure many years ago, I would have noticed the same increase in high frequency hearing?

A: Transient increase in high frequency following Valsalva maneuver (holding the nose and mouth & simultaneously attempting to open up the ear) is a normal phemomenon, which happens in all the individuals due to opening of the Eustachian tube. But, I doubt the former would have rectified the high frequency hearing, as this is more of a neural damage rather than any anatomical/physiological block.

Yes, Valsalva would have definitely helped in those individuals who are having chronic Eustachian tube block.

Q: In the present situation, since pressure does make a difference, would a decongestant or some other drug alter the geometry of my nasal passages and help?

A: You can definitely try using topical nasal decongestants followed by steam inhalation, but, I can't assure you of the positive results. Please consult a good ENT specialist before taking the medicines.

I wish you good health

Regards
Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
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