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Hearing loss

You can have trouble with your hearing at any age. You can get help to deal with hearing loss and stop it from getting worse.

Signs of hearing loss

Sometimes it’s obvious - at times, you may not hear what people are saying to you. Other signs that you may be suffering from hearing loss are that you:

  • have troubles hearing in noisy places
  • have trouble understanding what people say
  • have trouble understanding people unless they are facing you
  • have the TV up louder than other people
  • often miss your phone ringing.

 

Some people also get tinnitus, in which it sounds like you can hear cicadas much of the time.

It can be hard to pick up whether or not children have trouble hearing. Some signs that there might be problems are that:

  • they start speaking later than other kids
  • their speech is unclear, compared to other kids their age
  • they want the TV volume up too high
  • they don’t hear or follow directions.

Find out more about hearing loss in children on the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby website. You should talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your or your child’s hearing.

Why is my hearing getting worse?

Nearly everybody finds their hearing gets worse as they get older. Genetics play a part - some families have hearing problems earlier than other families.

Some people have their hearing damaged through many years of being exposed to noise at work. This is especially true for people who work among a lot of loud noise such as live music performances, mining, building or farming.

Other causes include:

  • an ear infection, or repeated ear infections
  • a head injury
  • exposure to certain chemicals or medications like aspirin, some antibiotics and some cancer drugs.

It is not clear whether or not having music at high volume while using headphones or earphones causes a problem.

Testing your hearing

There is an online test on the Know Your Noise website, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, that can help you work out whether your hearing might be a problem. You could also talk to your doctor. Learn more about hearing tests.

Treatment

Most people can’t have their hearing loss reversed, but there are treatments available to help you hear better including:

Find out more about hearing loss prevention and the Australian Government’s hearing services program.

Last reviewed: February 2016

Need more information?

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