Hearing loss is the result of sound signals not reaching the brain. There are two main types of hearing loss, depending on where the problem lies .
These causes are explained below.
Age is the biggest single cause ofhearing loss. Hearing loss that develops as a result of getting older is often known as age-related hearing loss or presbycusis.
Most people begin to lose a small amount of their hearingfrom around40 yearsof age. This hearing loss increases as you get older. By the age of 80, most people have significant hearing problems.
As your hearing starts to deteriorate, high-frequency sounds, such as female or childrens voices, may become difficult to hear. It may also be harder to hear consonants such as "s", "f" and "th". This can make understanding speech in background noise very difficult.
Another common cause of hearing loss is damage to the ear from repeated exposure to loud noises over time. This is known as noise-induced hearing loss, and it occurs when the sensitive hair cells inside the cochlea become damaged.
You're at higher risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss if you:
Hearing loss can also occur suddenlyafter exposure toan exceptionally loud noise, such as an explosion. This is known as acoustic trauma.
See preventing hearing loss for advice on reducing your risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs if the sensitive hair cells inside the cochlea are damaged, or as a result of damage to the auditory nerve (which transmits sound to the brain). In some cases, both may be damaged.
Hearing loss caused by age and exposure to loud noises are both types of sensorineural hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss canalsobe caused by:
Sometreatments and medicines, such as radiotherapy for nasal and sinus cancer, certain chemotherapy medicines or certain antibiotics can also damage the cochlea and the auditory nerve, causing sensorineural hearing loss.
People with diabetes , chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease are also at increased risk of hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and hearing aids are often required to improve hearing in these cases.
Conductive hearing loss can also be caused by:
Conductive hearing loss is usually temporary and can often be treated with medication or minor surgery. .
Hearing loss is a common problem that often develops with age or is caused by repeated exposure to loud noises.
Hearing loss is sometimes sudden, but often it's gradual and you may not notice it at first. Being aware of the early signs can help you identify the problem quickly.
Age and loud noises are the most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sounds are unable to pass into the inner ear
See your GP if you're having problems with your hearing. They'll examine your ears and carry out some simple hearing tests
How hearing loss is treated depends on the underlying cause of the condition.
The ears are fragile structures that can be damaged in many ways, so it's not always possible to prevent hearing loss.
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