What is age-related hearing loss?
Most of us will experience some degree of hearing loss as we get older. This hearing loss tends to affect both ears and increases as you age.
The main cause of age-related hearing loss is wear and tear to the tiny sensory cells known as hair cells in the cochlea (your hearing organ in the inner ear), but genetic factors can also play a part.
How does age affect your hearing?
As your hearing starts to deteriorate with age, high-frequency sounds, such as women's and children’s voices, may become difficult to hear. It may also be harder to hear consonants such as 's, 'f' and 'th'. This can make it hard to understand what people are saying over background noise.
There is no cure for age-related hearing loss, but modern hearing aids can help you to communicate more easily and lead a full life. Find out more from our factsheet Getting hearing aids.
Signs of age-related hearing loss
There are various signs that you may be experiencing hearing loss:
- Other people seem to mumble.
- People often have to repeat things for you.
- You have difficulty understanding what is being said in noisy places.
- It is hard to keep up with group conversation and you get tired because you have to concentrate so much.
- Other people think your television or music is too loud.
- You often have difficulty hearing on the telephone.
See your GP if you think you have hearing loss so they can rule out any temporary causes for your condition, such as a build up of ear-wax or an ear infection. If there is no obvious cause for your hearing loss, they should refer to an audiologist (hearing specialist).