Skip to content

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

Hearing Loss

If you take your ears for granted, listen up: hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the U.S. It's also on the rise with nearly 36 million Americans now reporting lost hearing. When hearing goes, it may affect quality of life and relationships.

In this article, WebMD looks at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of hearing loss. If you have lost some of your hearing, you'll find strategies to keep lines of communication open with friends and family. If your hearing is still intact, this article could help you keep it that way for years to come.

Recommended Related to

Severe Hearing Loss

Severe hearing loss means you can hear some sounds, but very poorly. You may not be able to hear someone speaking, even if they are using a normal voice. You may be able to hear only very loud sounds. Hearing loss can happen in many different ways to people of all ages. It’s different for everyone. The key is to work with your health care team to find ways help you make the most of the hearing you have. There are many treatments that can help you or your child enjoy life.

Read the Severe Hearing Loss article > >

Causes of Hearing Loss

Certain conditions, including age, illness, and genetics, may contribute to hearing loss. Over several generations, modern life has added a host of ear-damaging elements to the list, including some medications and plenty of sources of loud, continuous noise.

Advanced age is the most common cause of hearing loss. One out of three people aged 65-74 has some level of hearing loss. After age 75, that ratio goes up to one out of every two people.

Researchers don't fully understand why hearing decreases with age. It could be that lifetime exposure to noise and other damaging factors slowly wear down the ears' delicate mechanics. Genes also play a role.

Noise wears down hearing if it's loud or continuous. In some workplaces, ears are exposed to dangerous noise levels every day. To understand the impact of noise, consider this: 44% of carpenters and 48% of plumbers report some hearing loss. Other noisy lines of work include the military, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation.

Even musicians, who literally create music for our ears, are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. Some now wear special earplugs to protect their ears when they perform. The earplugs allow them to hear music without harming their ears' inner workings.

Certain medications can impair hearing and/or balance. More than 200 medications and chemicals have a track record of triggering hearing and/or balance side effects in addition to their disease-fighting capabilities. These include some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, aspirin, loop diuretics, a drug used to treat malaria, and several drugs for erectile dysfunction.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

sore foot
3 warning signs.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
What it looks like.
checking blood sugar
Symptoms and treatment.
man behind computer screen
10 possible causes.
Woman with itchy watery eyes
Common triggers.
man screaming
Making sense of symptoms.
human liver
What puts you at risk?
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
two male hands
Understanding RA.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.