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Types and causes of hearing loss and deafness

Age-related hearing loss

Age-related hearing loss is caused by changes that happen over time to the inner ear. It’s also known as presbycusis and is the most common cause of hearing loss.

Most of us will experience some level of hearing loss as we get older. This type of hearing loss tends to affect both ears, and increases as you get older.

There is currently no way to restore hearing after age-related hearing loss. But many people find hearing aids to be a huge help.

The main cause of age-related hearing loss is gradual wear and tear to tiny sensory cells called ‘hair cells’ in the cochlea (your hearing organ in the inner ear).

Your hearing might start to get worse with age. This can make high-pitch sounds, such as some voices, difficult to hear.

It might also be harder to hear certain speech sounds. This can make it hard to understand what people are saying.

You may be experiencing hearing loss if you:

  • think other people sound like they’re mumbling
  • ask people to repeat things for you often
  • have difficulty understanding what is being said in noisy places
  • find it hard to keep up with group conversation
  • get tired from having to concentrate so much
  • find other people think your TV or music is too loud
  • often have difficulty hearing on the telephone.