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HealthInfo Aoraki South Canterbury

Hearing loss in adults

Ngaronga rongonga ki ngā pakeke

Most hearing loss in adults happens because of ageing, but there are many 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 your 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 sounds over a long time can result in noise-induced hearing loss.

Disorders of the outer, middle or inner ear and auditory (hearing) nerve can all result in hearing loss.

Sometimes the cause cannot be determined.

Diagnosing hearing loss in adults

Sudden hearing loss is a medical emergency. If your hearing loss happens suddenly, is only in one ear or includes ringing in the ear (tinnitus), see your doctor for an ear examination urgently.

If your hearing loss is gradual, you can get a hearing test with an audiologist at a hearing clinic. You can search for an audiologist on the New Zealand Audiological Society website or Healthpoint.

Treating hearing loss in adults

Your treatment will depend on the cause and degree of your hearing loss.

If your 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 sounds, especially over a long time. If a sound is so loud that you have to shout to be heard by someone standing 1 metre away, it's too loud and may damage your hearing.

Do not listen to music or videos at high volume for long periods.

Wear hearing protection when in a loud environment, using loud machinery and so on.

Have regular hearing checks, especially if you're exposed to a lot of loud sound at work or you have a loud hobby.

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On the next page: Treating hearing loss in adults

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2023.


Page reference: 52900

Review key: HIHEL-52900