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Causes of hearing loss
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What are the common causes of hearing loss in adults?

Some of the most common causes of hearing loss include:

  • Ageing
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Injury
  • Viral infections (such as measles or mumps)
  • Ear wax build-up
  • Ototoxic drugs (medications that damage hearing)
  • Genetics

Hearing loss can occur at any time during your life. You can benefit from getting your hearing checked by one of hearing care experts, no matter what has caused your hearing loss.

Hearing loss types

Image shows woman during hearing test

Self-assessment: Do I need a hearing test? 

Just answer the four questions below to see whether you should consider getting a hearing test.

Question 1 – Around the table
Do you have trouble following conversations when there are four or more people present?
Have your family or friends suggested that you get your hearing tested?
Do you ever struggle to understand what others are saying because you cannot hear them properly?
Do you find yourself turning up the TV or radio, even when the volume is loud enough for others?

Your Result:

You would benefit from a hearing test

Your answers indicate that you experience symptoms of hearing loss. We strongly recommend booking a hearing test in one of our clinics.

The result is an indication. An in-person hearing test can determine if you have a hearing loss.



Book your free hearing test:

Your Result:

It seems you’d benefit from a hearing test

Your answers indicate that you experience some symptoms of hearing loss. We recommend booking a hearing test in one of our clinics.

The result is an indication. An in-person hearing test can determine if you have a hearing loss.



Book your free hearing test:

Your Result:

It cannot be determined whether you’d benefit from a hearing test

Your answers do not indicate that you experience symptoms of hearing loss. However, if you experience trouble hearing, we recommend booking a hearing test in one of our clinics.

The result is an indication. An in-person hearing test can determine if you have a hearing loss.




Book your free hearing test:

Step 1 of 5

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)

Age is the single biggest cause of hearing loss. Changes in the inner ear occur naturally as we grow older. Genes and loud noise can also play a big role. When your hearing starts to weaken, it becomes more difficult to:

  • Hear soft voices
  • Hear high-frequency sounds (voices of children and women)
  • Follow conversations when there's background noise

Because the loss is gradual, you may not realise that you’ve lost some of your hearing ability.

Age-related hearing loss

Image shows a woman having a hearing test

Noise-induced hearing loss

Repeated exposure to high levels of noise is another common cause of hearing loss. If you're exposed to loud noise for too long, the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear become damaged, and your ability to hear clearly can be affected.

Some people have a higher risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss if they're exposed to loud noise in their work environment (e.g. military personnel or musicians). Listening to excessively loud music at live concerts (or through headphones) can also cause hearing damage. There are things you can do to help prevent hearing loss.

Noise-induced hearing loss

Image shows a builder wearing hearing protectors whilst drilling to reduce the risk of hearing loss

Congenital hearing loss

Congenital hearing loss is a specific hearing loss cause. It means that a baby is born with hearing difficulties. The baby's hearing loss can be caused by either genetic defects, infections during pregnancy or low birth weight. 
When compared to all causes of hearing loss, congenital hearing loss is quite rare: less than 1% of babies are born with hearing loss. 

Image shows an audiologist looking in a baby's ear

Protect your ears in loud environments

Look after your ears in these situations by limiting your exposure to loud sounds (when possible) or by wearing high-quality ear plugs or ear defenders.
Image shows three friends socialising at a pub
Loud background noise
Any environment where you need to shout to make yourself heard over background noise
Image shows man working with a loud tool
Industrial noise 
An environment where the noise hurts your ears or makes them ring
Image shows a concert scene
Live music
Concerts or festivals where the sound levels are much higher than normal
Image shows a hand holding an invisible hearing aid.

Did you know?

Today’s hearing aids are more technologically advanced and smaller than ever.

Some of them are practically invisible but still offer excellent sound quality – even in difficult listening situations.

Others can also be connected to your smartphone (or other smart devices) so you can stream sound directly into your hearing aids.

Invisible hearing aids

Image shows an audiologist talking to a person with hearing loss  in front of a screen showing an audiogram

Treatment options for hearing loss

Regardless of the cause of your hearing loss, there is help available.

Understanding the source of your difficulties gives our experts insight into your needs.

 

While there's a wide range of possible causes and treatments for hearing loss, most hearing loss cases are treated with hearing aids.

 

Find your nearest clinic Hearing loss treatment

Hearing loss causes FAQs

Grace Sims
Grace Sims BSc, Audiologist and Mentor

Grace Sims completed her Bachelor of Science in Audiology at the University of Bristol and has previously worked in the ENT department at Southmead Hospital in Bristol. She joined Hidden Hearing in 2014 and is an audiologist at the Cheltenham clinic. She has been a practice educator for four years and is now a Hidden Hearing mentor. 


Sources

1. https://www.babyhearing.org/genetic-hearing-loss-faq