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HealthInfo Canterbury

Hearing loss in adults

Ngaronga rongonga ki ngā pakeke

Most hearing loss in adults happens because of ageing, but there are some other possible reasons.

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent depending on the cause.

A hearing test with an audiologist (hearing specialist) will show how bad the hearing loss is.

Symptoms of hearing loss in adults

If you're slowly losing your hearing, it can be hard to tell. Some common signs include if you:

Causes of hearing loss in adults

The commonest cause of gradual hearing loss is ageing. This kind of hearing loss is called presbyacusis (pres-bee-ah-koo-sis). It usually happens in both ears and affects your ability to hear high-pitched sounds first.

Exposure to loud noises over a long time can result in noise–induced hearing loss.

Sudden hearing loss can be caused by a build-up of ear wax, an ear infection, a burst ear drum or damage from a very loud noise.

Diagnosing hearing loss in adults

If your hearing loss is sudden, in one ear only or with ringing in the ear (tinnitus) see your doctor for an ear examination.

If your hearing loss is gradual, you can get a hearing test with an audiologist at a hearing clinic. You can search for one on Healthpages or the audiological society.

Treating hearing loss in adults

Your treatment will depend on the reason for your decrease in hearing and how severe it is.

If the hearing loss is permanent, you may need hearing aids or a cochlear implant.

Self-care for hearing loss in adults

Protect your hearing by avoiding exposure to loud noises, especially over a long time. If a noise is so loud that you have to shout to be heard by someone standing 1 metre away, the noise is too loud and may damage your hearing.

Don't listen to music or videos at high volume.

Wear ear protection when in a noisy environment or using loud machinery.

Have regular hearing checks if you have a lot of loud noise at work.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Treating hearing loss in adults

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2020.


Page reference: 52900

Review key: HIHEL-52900