Sensorineural hearing loss in the elderly. Hearing loss is especially marked at higher frequencies.
This is caused by atrophy and degeneration of both the ear and the nervous system.
- In the former, there is epithelial atrophy with loss of sensory hair cells and supporting cells in the cochlea, causing a loss of high frequency hearing. Speech discrimination is usually preserved.
- In the latter, there is atrophy of cochlear nerve cells and CNS, causing a hearing loss with poor speech discrimination.
- There can also be thickening of the basilar membrane of the cochlea (trouble hearing high frequency sound).
Typically, individuals have problems hearing speech when there is a lot of background noise.
These patients usually get a hearing aid to manage their hearing loss.