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Hearing loss is a fairly common condition, with 20% of adults suffering from it.1 The good news is that there is plenty of help and very effective ways of treating hearing loss.

If you suspect that you or someone you care about has hearing loss, you’re in the right place to get information. On this page, you will learn more about:

Do you want to find out if you may have hearing loss?

Hearing loss is more common than you might think, and while it is often associated with seniors, it can occur at any age.

  • Hearing loss is the 3rd most common health condition among older adults.2
  • About 1 in 5 adults has hearing loss.1
  • On average, people with hearing loss wait 7-10 years before getting treatment.3
  • 80% of people age 55-74 years who could benefit from hearing aids do not use them.3

5 signs and symptoms of hearing loss

Hearing loss is sometimes described as an "invisible disability," meaning people don't always notice or understand it when they experience it. To help you recognize it, HearingLife has compiled a list of the most common signs of hearing loss. The symptoms of hearing loss depend on the type of hearing loss, the degree of hearing loss and the cause of the hearing loss.

If you recognize any of the symptoms, we invite you to come for a complimentary hearing assessment* by one of HearingLife's experts.

1 – You often ask others to repeat themselves.

2 – You can’t hear voices clearly over the phone.

3 – You turn up the volume on the TV loud enough to bother others.

4 – You have a continuous ringing in your ear.

5 – You have trouble following a conversation in a noisy environment.

Read more about the

Do you recognize any of the above signs of hearing loss?

If you or someone you know can relate to any of the symptoms listed above, then it may be an indication of hearing loss, and you should speak with a professional.

Complimentary hearing assessment*



Hearing loss severity

The degree of hearing loss can be classified according to the severity of the hearing problem. It is measured in decibels (dB), referring to how loud sounds need to be for you to hear them.

  1. Normal hearing (≤25 dB) No perceived hearing loss symptoms.
  2. Mild hearing loss (26-40 dB) When you have mild hearing loss, the quietest sounds you can hear with your better ear are between 26 and 40 dB. Quiet and soft conversation or situations with background noise becomes difficult to understand.
  3. Moderate hearing loss (41-60 dB) When you have moderate hearing loss, the quietest sounds you can hear with your better ear are between 41 and 60 dB. Higher volume levels are required for radio and televisions.
  4. Severe hearing loss (61-80 dB) When you have severe hearing loss, the quietest sounds you can hear with your better ear are between 61 and 80 dB. Difficulties with speech and group conversations, comprehension is impossible without amplification.
  5. Profound hearing loss (≥81 dB) When you have profound hearing loss, the quietest sounds you can hear with your better ear are 81 dB or more. Difficult or impossible to hear and understand amplified devices or speech.

Types of hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss

The most common type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss and it involves the inner ear. It can be caused by damage to tiny hair-like cells in the inner ear or by damage to the auditory nerve. Often, this type of hearing loss can be treated with the right type of hearing aids.

Conductive hearing loss

This type of hearing loss comes from a mechanical problem in the middle or outer part of the ear. Conductive hearing loss can also be caused by an obstruction of some sort in the canal of the ear, like earwax preventing sound from getting to the eardrum. It’s often temporary and can be helped by medicine.

Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss is when both aspects of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss are present.

Read more about types of hearing loss.

Tinnitus and hearing loss

Tinnitus is not hearing loss, but is highly associated with hearing loss and sometimes grouped in with "types of hearing loss."

The American Tinnitus Association describes the condition as:

"Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. While it is commonly referred to as 'ringing in the ears,' tinnitus can manifest many different perceptions of sound, including buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, and clicking. In some rare cases, tinnitus patients report hearing music. Tinnitus can be both an acute (temporary) condition or a chronic (ongoing) health malady."4

Hearing aids often provide effective treatment for tinnitus.

The auditory system

There are many parts of your auditory system working together to help you hear. A malfunction, damage, or obstruction to one or more of those components can result in hearing loss. Because each part of your auditory system performs a specific role in hearing and processing sound, specific treatment is required to assist or repair their function.

Facts about hearing loss

  1. The outer ear – The external part of the ear, which collects sound waves and directs them into the ear.

  2. The middle ear – The middle ear transmits sound from the outer ear to the inner ear.

  3. The inner ear – The inner ear consists of the cochlea, the inner ear balance mechanism, the vestibular nerve, and the auditory nerve.

Treatment of hearing loss

Hearing loss is a well-researched condition, and many resources have been put into developing the right kind of treatment – so there are several treatment options available today, depending on your type of hearing loss or individualized needs.

The best treatment for your type of hearing loss can be selected in a meeting between you and your hearing care expert.

The treatment will depend upon:

  • Your type of hearing loss

  • Your degree of hearing loss

  • The cause(s) of hearing loss, if known

  • Your lifestyle, interests and communication needs

  • Your cosmetic preferences and your budget

Tip from an audiologist

If you think you may have hearing loss, starting treatment for hearing loss as soon as possible is key to improving your quality of life, so that you can enjoy your favorite activities again – such as engaging in conversations with friends and family or watching your favorite TV show again. Generally, the earlier you address hearing loss, the faster your brain gets used to treatment and the better the outcome.

Do you have hearing loss? Find out.

Book a complimentary hearing assessment*

Meet with a hearing care expert at a convenient location near you. Fill out this form and we'll call to schedule your no-obligation appointment.


How to find out if you have hearing loss

Step 1 - Study the signs of hearing loss listed above and see if you recognize any of them. You can also take our free online hearing test and get an immediate indication of your hearing health.

Step 2 - If you recognize any of the signs of hearing loss, you can contact our call center and book a complimentary hearing assessment with a hearing care provider near you.

Step 3 - At the hearing center, you will have a conversation with a specialist in hearing loss and hearing care. You will go through a hearing assessment and receive a copy of your audiogram. It’s complimentary, and there are no obligations of any kind.

Step 4 - If you have hearing loss, you will receive an introduction to your treatment options. If the right treatment is a hearing aid, you can try an appropriate model and see if it improves your overall quality of life.

Learn more about treating hearing loss at HearingLife.

Watch this video and hear audiologist Timothy Humpidge explain what happens when you visit a hearing clinic and have a hearing assessment. See him use an otoscope and describe what you can expect during an appointment. Your hearing care provider will go over your audiogram and, if you have hearing loss, you can find out how we may help you hear better.

Not sure if you have hearing loss?

Do I need to check my hearing?


Hearing loss can occur at any age. Although old age or exposure to loud noise are the most common causes of hearing loss, an infection, injury or genetic issue can be among the causes for hearing loss as well. Understanding the source of your issues gives our professionals insight into your needs, so we can advise you with the best options for your specific treatment. That's why we encourage you to speak with our professionals as soon as you notice any hearing difficulties.

Common causes of hearing loss include:
  • Aging

  • Excessive noise exposure

  • Injury
  • Viral infections
    (such as measles or mumps)

  • Wax buildup

  • Ototoxic drugs
    (medications that damage hearing)

Learn more about causes of hearing loss


How to prevent hearing loss

Although there is no cure for age-related hearing loss, and no guaranteed hearing loss prevention method, there are steps you can take to reduce your likelihood of developing hearing loss over your lifetime. Research continues to give good news on how positive steps and lifestyle changes can help promote healthy hearing, including how eating well may mean hearing well.

Learn more about healthy hearing practices and hearing protection solutions that can help keep hearing loss at bay.

Read more about preventing hearing loss

FAQ about hearing loss

Dr. Nishat FatimaDr. Nishat Fatima, Clinical Audiologist & International Trainer
is a clinical audiologist who completed her Doctor of Audiology degree from and bachelors degree from Texas A&M University. She has worked in the public and private sector on amplification, rehabilitation, tinnitus therapy and occupational safety.


Collins, J. G. (1997). Prevalence of selected chronic conditions: United States 1990–1992. Vital and Health Statistics, 10(194). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Cited at www.asha.org/Articles/Untreated-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/ Accessed September 16, 2019.

3 www.asha.org/Articles/Untreated-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/. Accessed September 16, 2019.

www.ata.org/understanding-facts. Accessed September 16, 2019.