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.

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