Hearing loss can be something that happens suddenly if you’re exposed to a loud sound or bang. It can also happen slowly over a long period of time, which is often the case with age-related hearing loss. Understanding hearing loss is an important first step towards doing something about it.
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Hearing loss means you have lost the ability to hear certain sounds. Maybe you can no longer hear high-pitched tones, like the voices of women or children. Or maybe you can’t pick out a single voice if there is a lot of conversation in the background.
Sometimes hearing loss is temporary, like a ringing in your ears after a noisy concert. Most often, it is permanent because the mechanisms that help you hear have been damaged.
Hearing loss can be divided into four categories depending on the level of hearing loss*: mild, moderate, severe and profound. Watch the video to understand these four levels better.
* World Health Organization, 2016
You will have trouble hearing and understanding soft speech, speech from a distance or speech against a background of noise.
You will have difficulty hearing regular speech, even at close distances.
You may only hear very loud speech or loud sounds in the environment, such as a fire truck siren or a door lamming. Most conversational speech is not heard.
You may only perceive loud sounds as vibrations.
One of the most common symptoms of hearing loss is the inability to hear high-pitched tones, such as female voices.
There are many different causes of hearing loss: noise, side effects of medication, infections or aging.
Certain types of hearing loss can be medically treated, but other types cannot.
Ringing in the ear can be frustrating but there are management options that can give you some relief.