What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss makes it difficult or impossible to hear speech and other sounds. There are different types of hearing loss, and they can range from mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Some types of hearing loss are temporary, and some are permanent.
Around 1 in 6 Australians experience hearing loss.
What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be caused by a problem in any part of your hearing pathway. This can be from your outer and middle ear through to your inner ear and the nerve to your brain.
Some people are born with low hearing. Other people develop hearing loss later because of a health condition. The most common causes are ageing and being exposed to loud noise.
People who work in loud environments are at higher risk. This includes construction workers, musicians, farmers, miners and military personnel. Listening to loud music with headphones or at clubs or gyms also puts you at risk.
Most people find their hearing gets worse as they get older. Hearing loss can also be genetic.
What are the symptoms of hearing loss?
The first signs of hearing loss can be hard to notice because they usually come on gradually. They might include:
- having trouble hearing in noisy places
- having trouble hearing people on the phone or if they’re not facing you
- often asking people to repeat themselves
- hearing sounds as muffled, as though people are mumbling
- needing to have the TV up louder than other people
- often missing your phone or the doorbell ringing
- hearing buzzing or ringing in your ears
- avoiding situations because you have trouble hearing
Your child might have hearing loss if:
- they don’t startle at a loud noise or turn their head towards a sound
- they start speaking later than other children their age
- their speech is unclear, compared with other children their age
- they want the TV volume up high
- they don’t understand and follow instructions as well as other children their age
- they need people to repeat themselves
- they’re struggling at school