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Hearing Loss

Loss of hearing can be very concerning. To help you hear better for longer, we've created some helpful advice on the main causes of hearing loss and the potential signs to look out for. If you've noticed a change in your hearing, it's important to book a free hearing health check with one of our trained professionals, who will be happy to help.

anatomy of the ear

Causes of hearing loss

Understanding the causes of hearing loss is crucial for effective management and treatment. These factors can contribute to changes in auditory ability:


Common causes of hearing loss include:

Age: the likelihood of experiencing auditory changes increases with age, particularly after 60.
Noise exposure: regular exposure to loud sounds, like concerts without ear protection, can impact hearing.

Ear infections: infections in the ear can lead to temporary or permanent hearing issues.

Perforated eardrum: a burst eardrum can result in hearing complications.

Ménière’s disease: this inner ear disorder may affect hearing and balance.

Family history: genetic factors can contribute to hearing challenges.

Build-up of earwax: accumulation of earwax can block the ear canal and impair hearing. 

Consulting with your doctor on any of the above factors can help guide hearing loss treatment and create a management plan tailored to your needs.

Types of hearing loss

Understanding the different types of hearing loss can help identify the underlying causes and appropriate treatments. Here’s a brief overview presented in a table for clarity:

Type of hearing loss Description Causes
Conductive hearing loss It occurs when sound waves cannot pass through the outer or middle ear to the inner ear. Ear infections, fluid in the middle ear, earwax buildup, perforated eardrum, abnormal bone growth in the middle ear.
Sensorineural hearing loss Results from damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. It typically involves a reduction in the ability to hear faint sounds and understand speech. Aging (presbycusis), noise exposure, genetics, head trauma, viral infections (e.g., measles or mumps affecting the inner ear).
Mixed hearing loss Combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Can result from a variety of factors affecting both the outer/middle ear and inner ear/nerves.

Watch our video to explore more about different types of hearing loss and their impact on earhealth.

Hearing loss symptoms

Hearing changes often occur gradually, and it's common for individuals to live with symptoms unknowingly. Staying vigilant to the prevalent signs can prevent unnecessary challenges for both you and your loved ones.

Things to look out for include:

Difficulty hearing clear: struggling to hear others distinctly.

Phone hearing challenges: difficulty hearing during phone conversations.

Speech misunderstanding: trouble understanding speech, especially in noisy environments.

Frequent repetition: asking others to repeat themselves.

Volume adjustment: increasing TV volume significantly.

Social withdrawal: pulling back from conversations.

Reluctance to socialise: hesitancy in social engagements.

Everyday common sounds

Understanding the impact of everyday noises on your hearing is crucial for maintaining good ear health. Here are some examples of common sounds and their corresponding decibel levels:

Noise sound Decibels
Whispering 30 dB
Normal conversation 60 dB
Refrigerator hum 40 dB
Office noise 70 dB
Vacuum cleaner 75 dB
City traffic (inside the car) 85 dB
Hairdryer 90 dB
Motorcycle 95 dB
Lawnmower 100 dB
Rock concert 120 dB
Chainsaw 120 dB
Siren 120 dB
Jet engine at takeoff 140 dB
Fireworks 150 dB

Prolonged exposure to noises above 85 dB can potentially cause hearing damage. It's essential to be aware of these levels to protect your hearing. For more information on how hearing works and how to protect it, we give a detailed breakdown on how we hear.

Hearing loss prevention

As we age, auditory changes can occur, but proactive steps can help mitigate the impact. Consider these preventive measures:

Limit exposure to loud noises: avoid prolonged exposure to loud sounds. If you work in a noisy environment, use hearing protection to reduce the risk of hearing loss.

Keep headphone volume at a moderate level: listening to music or other audio at high volumes can damage your hearing. Keep the volume at a safe level, especially when using headphones.

Use earplugs or protective earmuffs in noisy environments: whether you're at a concert, using power tools, or attending a sporting event, earplugs or earmuffs can help protect your ears from harmful noise levels.

Opt for quieter products and settings: choose appliances and equipment designed to operate more quietly. When possible, select quieter recreational activities that don't expose you to excessive noise.

Regularly undergo hearing tests: schedule regular hearing check-ups to monitor your hearing health. Early detection of hearing loss can lead to more effective management and prevention strategies.

For more detailed and practical advice on protecting your hearing, visit our page on ways to improve your hearing health.

How hearing aids can help

Hearing aids are a valuable tool for managing hearing loss. They amplify sounds to make them easier to hear, improving communication and quality of life. Modern hearing aids come with various features, including noise reduction, directional microphones, and connectivity to other devices, making them effective in different listening environments.

By adopting these preventive measures and staying informed, you can significantly contribute to maintaining your hearing health and minimising the risks associated with harmful listening habits.

Hearing loss treatment

Treatment for hearing loss depends on its cause. Your GP may diagnose the cause of your hearing loss and provide simple solutions such as ear drops or antibiotics. Below, we outline various treatment options:

Treatment option Description
Hearing aids: types, benefits, and considerations Hearing aids amplify sound, making it easier to hear. There are various types, including behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, and completely-in-canal models.
Benefits include improved hearing in noisy environments and better communication.
Considerations involve cost, lifestyle, and severity of hearing loss.
Surgical interventions (e.g., cochlear implants) For severe hearing loss, surgical options like cochlear implants may be considered. These devices bypass damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Surgery is typically reserved for those who do not benefit from hearing aids.
Rehabilitation and therapy options Rehabilitation includes auditory training and speech-reading therapy to enhance listening and communication skills.
ounselling and support groups can also be beneficial. These therapies help individuals adjust to hearing loss and make the most of their residual hearing.

For further tests and treatment, we recommend seeing an audiologist. They can provide a comprehensive hearing assessment and tailor treatment plans to your specific needs, book an appointment today.

How do I cope with losing my hearing?

Coping with hearing loss can be challenging for individuals and their families. Here are some strategies and tips to help manage this transition:

Coping strategies for individuals and their families

Get support: connect with support groups and counselling services to share experiences and gain emotional support.

Educate yourself and others: learn about hearing loss and its impact. Educating family and friends can foster understanding and patience.

Use assistive devices: invest in devices such as hearing aids that can significantly improve hearing.

Develop lip-reading skills: practice lip-reading to enhance communication in noisy environments.

Communication tips and technologies for better hearing

Face-to-face communication: always try to communicate face-to-face. This helps with lip-reading and picking up visual cues.

Speak clearly and slowly: encourage others to speak clearly and at a moderate pace without shouting.

Minimise background noise: reduce background noise during conversations by turning off the TV or moving to a quieter area.

Use technology: explore hearing assistive technologies like captioned phones, amplified telephones, and personal amplifiers.

Utilise text and email: when verbal communication is difficult, use text messaging, email, or other written forms of communication.

Visual alerts: use visual alert systems for important sounds such as doorbells, alarms, or phone calls.

By adopting these strategies and utilising available technologies, individuals with hearing loss and their families can improve communication and enhance their quality of life.

Frequently asked questions

Can hearing loss affect memory?

Yes, hearing plays a major role in keeping your memory and brain sharp. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to impaired memory, balance issues, and even dementia. This is why it’s important to make sure your hearing health is as well looked after as possible.

Can hearing loss be cured?

Hearing loss can be treated but not restored. Most of the time, a hearing aid will be the best solution.

Can hearing loss be genetic?

Yes, those with a family history of hearing loss are more likely to experience it themselves. It’s important your doctor knows about any family history of hearing loss. You will most likely be referred on for additional testing and monitoring.

Can hearing loss cause headaches?

Yes, headaches are a secondary symptom of hearing loss. However hearing loss with headaches may also signal that you have an underlying ear condition. Book an appointment with your doctor to check there’s no problem.

Can hearing loss cause depression?

Yes, untreated hearing loss can lead to depression. This is because adjusting to everyday life without one of the five senses often proves difficult, particularly if you are a sociable person. Speak to your GP about possible treatments for hearing loss.

Can mild hearing loss be corrected?

Yes, mild hearing loss can often be corrected or managed with various treatments. Depending on the cause, options may include hearing aids, ear drops, removal of earwax, or medical treatments for infections or other conditions. Consulting an audiologist or GP can help determine the most appropriate solution.

Can you have mild hearing loss and not know?

Absolutely. Mild hearing loss can be subtle and may go unnoticed, especially if it develops gradually. People may not realise they have hearing loss until they experience difficulties in noisy environments or during conversations. Regular hearing tests can help detect any early signs of hearing loss.

What is the most common cause of hearing loss?

The most common cause of hearing loss is age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis. This natural decline in hearing ability typically begins after the age of 60 and affects both ears. Other common causes include noise-induced hearing loss from exposure to loud sounds, ear infections, and certain medical conditions.

What are the reasons for sudden hearing loss?

Sudden hearing loss can result from various factors, including viral infections, trauma to the ear, sudden loud noises, certain medications, and underlying health conditions such as autoimmune diseases. It’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention if you experience sudden hearing loss.

What is the reason for hearing loss in one ear?

Hearing loss in one ear, also known as unilateral hearing loss, can be caused by ear infections, trauma, acoustic neuroma (a benign tumour on the hearing nerve), Meniere's disease, or sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Consulting a healthcare professional can help diagnose the cause and recommend appropriate treatment.

Any kind of hearing loss is scary, but you don’t have to suffer alone. If you have a problem with hearing loss, get help from your doctor or a qualified audiologist.

Do you have any issues related to hearing loss? Arrange a consultation with a specialist at Boots Hearingcare to go through your case...