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Hearing Loss

What causes hearing loss?

Some possibilities are

  • Heredity
  • Diseases such as ear infections  and meningitis
  • Trauma
  • Certain medicines
  • Long-term exposure to loud noise
  • Aging

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. Approximately 17 percent, or 36 million, of American adults say that they have some degree of hearing loss. Roughly one-third of Americans 65 to 74 years of age and 47 percent of those 75 and older have hearing loss. Men are more likely to experience hearing loss than women.

Some people may have a hearing problem without realizing it. Others might think they have a problem, but are too embarrassed to tell their doctor, friends, or family. You can help identify a possible hearing problem by asking yourself some key questions and, if necessary, having your hearing checked by a doctor. Only 38 percent of adults ages 70 years and older and only 29 percent of adults ages 20 to 69 have had their hearing tested within the last 5 years.

Hearing Loss Tutorial



NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that can answer questions and provide printed or electronic information on hearing loss and older adults. Please see the list of organizations at www.nidcd.nih.gov/directory.

For more information, additional addresses and phone numbers, or a printed list of organizations, contact:

NIDCD Information Clearinghouse
1 Communication Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20892-3456
Toll-free Voice: (800) 241-1044
Toll-free TTY: (800) 241-1055
Fax: (301) 770-8977
E-mail: nidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.gov

SOURCE: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Ear Health Fact Sheet for Residents