Hearing Loss

The first step in exploring hearing and treatment is education.

Understanding the signs, symptoms, preventative options, and treatment is essential for peace of mind.  Hearing your best starts with education, providing you with clarity and confidence in your decisions.

Degrees of hearing loss

There are four clinically labeled degrees of hearing loss


If you have moderate hearing loss, you’ll struggle to hear/understand speech when someone is talking at a normal level.


If you have severe hearing loss, you will hear little-to-no speech when spoken at normal levels and hear only some loud sounds.


If you have mild hearing loss, you may hear some speech sounds but will have difficulty with soft sounds.


If you have profound hearing loss, you may only hear very loud sounds and no speech at all.

What Hearing Loss Sounds Like

Hearing loss typically does not sound like the volume is being turned down. Unless your hearing loss occurs during a sudden moment (not typical) your brain slowly adjusts to the missing information over time. When your ears have a hard time hearing specific frequencies, other frequencies that you can hear are perceived as louder. Because of this, you might be able to hear your friend in a quiet room, but you may have a hard time understanding the person next to you sitting in a noisy restaurant.

Otolaryngologist putting hearing aid in woman's ear

Types of Hearing Loss

There are three types of hearing loss — sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. It occurs when the inner ear nerves and hair cells are damaged — perhaps due to age, noise damage, or something else. Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the pathways from your inner ear to your brain. Most times, sensorineural hearing loss cannot be corrected medically or surgically, but can be treated and helped with the use of hearing aids.

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Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is typically the result of obstructions in the outer or middle ear — perhaps due to fluid, tumors, earwax, or even ear formation. This obstruction prevents sound from getting to the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss can often be treated surgically or with medicine.

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Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss is just what it sounds like — a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is caused by many factors, most frequently from natural aging or exposure to loud noise. The other most common causes of hearing loss are:

  • Head Trauma
  • Virus or disease
  • Genetics
  • Ototoxicity

Things that can cause sensorineural hearing loss are:

  • Aging
  • Injury
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Viral infections (such as measles or mumps)
  • Shingles
  • Ototoxic drugs (medications that damage hearing)
  • Meningitis
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • High fever or elevated body temperature
  • Ménière’s disease (a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance)
  • Acoustic tumors
  • Heredity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension

Things that can cause conductive hearing loss are:

  • Infections of the ear canal or middle ear resulting in fluid or pus buildup
  • Perforation or scarring of the eardrum
  • Dislocation of the middle ear bones (ossicles)
  • Foreign objects in the ear canal
  • Otosclerosis (an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear)
  • Abnormal growths or tumors
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Hearing Loss Prevention

Learn how to protect yourself from hearing loss.

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Take Action

When you hear better, you live better.

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Choosing a Professional

Why choosing a hearing professional is important.

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Helping a Loved One

Talk to your loved one about their hearing concerns.

Symptoms of hearing loss

If you find yourself saying “what?” all the time or need to be looking at someone to hear what they’re saying (by also reading their lips), your hearing might be fading.

When you can’t have a conversation because your TV is too loud, it’s time to get a hearing consultation.

This is one of the first challenges people with hearing loss encounter: tracking what someone else is saying in a noise-filled place like a restaurant.

High-frequency hearing loss is very common — so it’s to be expected that women and children’s voices would be tougher to hear.

A classic complaint of people who have hearing loss is that others don’t speak clearly. If you find yourself thinking people are mumbling and hard to understand, that may be a symptom of hearing loss.

If you have trouble occasionally, that is OK. If you constantly feel like you cannot hear on the phone, whether you’re using a landline or mobile phone, this may be a symptom of hearing loss.

People who can’t engage easily, feel left out of conversations, or who have bad experiences trying to hear in public spaces often decide it’s easier to decline invitations and stay at home. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Ringing in your ears is often thought to be a symptom of hearing loss or damage to the auditory system — and hearing loss and tinnitus very often go hand in hand.

If more than one friend or family member questions your hearing acuity — in seriousness or jest — guess what? They could be onto something.


Why do people ignore hearing loss?

People who treat their hearing loss often say, “why did I wait so long?” Here are four common reasons:

“I don’t have hearing loss,” they say, “you just mumble and talk too softly.”

“I’ll just turn up the volume, ask others to repeat themselves, or avoid places where hearing is a problem.”

Many people are unfamiliar with research linking treated hearing loss to lower risk of falls, a lower risk of dementia, and less isolation.

Maybe once upon a time, but today’s hearing aids are smart, sophisticated, and designed to be your personal assistant. View Hearing Aid Technology

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