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What are the common causes of hearing loss in adults?

Some of the most common causes of hearing loss include:

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

Hearing loss can occur at any time during your lifespan. No matter the cause of your hearing loss, you can benefit from getting your hearing checked by a hearing care expert.

Hearing loss types

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Quiz yourself: Should I get my hearing checked?

Answer a few questions to see if you could benefit from a hearing assessment.*

Question 1 – Around the table
Do you have trouble following conversations when there are 4 or more people present?
Have you received advice from your family or friends to get your hearing tested?
Do you ever struggle to understand what others are saying because you cannot hear properly?
Do you find yourself turning up the TV or radio even when the volume is loud enough for others?

Your Result:

A hearing assessment is relevant for you

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

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



Book your complimentary hearing assessment:

Your Result:

A hearing assessment seems relevant for you

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

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



Book your complimentary hearing assessment:

Your Result:

It cannot be determined here if a hearing assessment is relevant for you

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

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




Book your complimentary hearing assessment:

Step 1 of 6

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)

Age is the single largest cause of hearing loss. It is caused by changes in the inner ear that occur as you grow older. Additionally, 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 in the presence of background noise

Because the loss is gradual, you may not realize that you’ve lost some of your ability to hear.

Age-related hearing loss

Image shows audiologist examing ear of a man whose hearing loss was caused by aging

Noise-induced hearing loss

Repeated exposure to high levels of noise is another common cause of hearing loss. If you are 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 compromised.

Some people have a higher risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss if they are 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 be another cause of hearing damage.

Noise-induced hearing loss

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Congenital hearing loss

Congenital hearing loss is a specific cause of hearing loss, and 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: about 1% of babies are born with hearing loss.1

Protect your ears in loud environments

Protect your ears in these situations by limiting exposure to loud sounds (when possible) or by wearing high-quality earplugs or earmuffs
Image show couple in a restaurant
1. 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
2. Industrial noise 
An environment where the noise hurts your ears or makes them ring
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3. Live music
Concerts or festivals where the sound levels are much higher than normal
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Did you know?

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

Some of them are practically invisible and yet offer excellent sound quality - even in difficult listening situations.

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

Nearly 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

Fortunately, there is help available regardless of the cause of your hearing loss. Understanding the source of your issues gives our experts insight into your needs.

 

While there is a wide range of possible causes and treatments for hearing loss, most cases of hearing loss are treated with hearing aids. Your hearing care expert will explain the best treatment plan for you after you have completed a hearing evaluation.

 

Find a center near you Hearing loss treatment

FAQs about causes of hearing loss

image of Anne-Marie Caron, Clinical Audiologist
Anne-Marie Caron, Clinical Audiologist

Anne-Marie has a Master's Degree in Audiologopedics (Speech, Language and Hearing Science). She has worked both within the private and public sectors and has experience with hearing aid fitting and counseling about hearing loss. In her current position as a clinical audiologist, she performs user tests where subjects test hearing aids that are still in the developmental phase.


Sources

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