Learn about hearing loss


Hearing loss is common as people age. After age 75, one-half of older adults have trouble with hearing. Since hearing loss usually happens very slowly, many people don't notice the change.


People with hearing loss might:

  • Turn up the volume of televisions or radios

  • Ask people to repeat what they said

  • Have trouble hearing in noisy environments, like crowded restaurants

  • Having difficulty hearing over the telephone

  • Have trouble telling where a sound is coming from

  • Have trouble understanding high-pitched sounds, like children's voices

  • Misunderstand instructions

  • Not respond to questions or respond in a way that doesn't make sense

  • Seem confused

Hearing tests help identify hearing loss and lead to early treatment. Untreated hearing loss can get worse. Hearing loss can affect balance, driving and the brain.

Hearing issues can be caused by:

  • Wax buildup in the ears

  • Ringing in the ears, called tinnitus

  • Chronic conditions that affect blood flow, like heart disease and diabetes

  • Medications that can damage the ear, including high doses of aspirin, NSAIDs (like ibuprofen), some antibiotics and some cancer drugs (including cyclophosphamide and cisplatin)

People with hearing loss can stay healthy and active, often by:

  • Reducing background noise or moving to a quiet area to have conversations

  • Asking people to get their attention before starting to speak with them

  • Getting hearing aids, cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices

  • Using technologies like audio loops, or infrared or FM systems

  • Adding captioning for telephones, televisions or movies

  • Participating in hearing loss support groups