Presbycusis – The Reason Adults Can’t Hear the Teen Buzz Ringtone

Presbycusis is a degenerative condition affecting the ability to hear high frequency soundsPresbycusis also commonly spelled presbyacusis is a common degenerative condition that affects most of the adult human population. People who are affected by presbycusis usually start losing the ability to hear higher frequency noises ( > 17khz ) around the age of 18 and will progressivly deteriorate throughout their later years in life. The association between advanced age and high-tone deafness was first described by the Dutch scientist Zwaardemaker in 1899.


The condition affects most adults and it is considered a natural side effect of aging, almost everyone will be affected by it at some point in their life. The exact cause of the sensorineural hearing impairment in individuals is unknown, but there are several suspected multifactorial reasons for it.


Possible Causes of Presbycusis:

  • Arteriosclerosis: Arteriosclerosis may cause reduced perfusion and oxygenation of the cochlea. Hypoperfusion leads to the creation of reactive oxygen metabolites and free radicals, which may damage inner ear structures directly as well as destroy or damage mitochondrial DNA of the inner ear. This damage may result in the development of presbycusis.

  • Diet and metabolism: Diabetes speeds the process of atherosclerosis, which might interfere with perfusion and oxygenation of the cochlea. Diabetes causes diffuse proliferation and hypertrophy of the vascular intimal endothelium, which may also interfere with perfusion of the cochlea. Increased intake of a fatty diet may also accelerate atherosclerotic changes in old age as well.

  • Accumulated exposure to noise: Continuing Exposure to loud noises stresses the already hypoxic cochlea, speeding up the presbycusis process.

  • Drug and environmental chemical exposure: Scientists presume smoking will accentuate atherosclerotic changes in blood vessels and therefore cause presbycusis to occur. Ingestion of ototoxic drugs (drugs that can be dangerous to the ear and or hearing process.) like aspirin may quicken the presbycusis process

  • Stress

  • Genetics: Genetic programming for early aging of parts of the auditory system may influence the development of presbycusis. Often, concomitant impairment of hearing, balance, sense of smell, taste, and visual acuity is associated with the aging process. Likewise, genetically programmed susceptibility to environmental factors (eg, noise, ototoxic drugs and chemicals, stress) may be involved.


Presbycusis and the Mosquito Ringtone:
As a result of people losing the ability to hear high pitch frequencies in middle and later stages of life; teenagers quickly discovered that they could use the ability of their youthful ears to their advantage by being able to hear notifications (text messages, incoming calls, etc… ) from their cell phones without adults being able to hear it. The mosquito ringtone allows teenagers to be notified of text messages and incoming calls when cell phone use is inappropriate (i.e. classroom, church, movie theater, etc…).


Presbycusis Diagnosis:
A quick method to determine if one is affected by presbycusis is to listen to our Teen Buzz / Mosquito Ringtones which are popular with teenagers because for the most part they have not yet developed presbycusis and can hear high frequency noises. The mosquito ringtone test should NOT be used as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor, if you have concerns you should speak with a Otologist.