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      Age-related hearing loss

      Age-related damage to the inner ear is the single biggest cause of hearing loss.

      What is age-related hearing loss?

      Most of us will experience some level 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 gradual wear and tear to the tiny sensory cells called 'hair cells' in the cochlea (your hearing organ in the inner ear), but genetic factors can also play a part.

      Age-related hearing loss is also known as presbycusis.

      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 many people find hearing aids to be a huge help. Find out more in our leaflet 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's hard to keep up with group conversation and you get tired because you have to concentrate so much.
      • Other people think your TV 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 check for any temporary causes such as a build up of ear wax or an ear infection. If there's no obvious cause of your hearing loss, they should refer you to a hearing specialist (audiologist).

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