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Common causes of hearing loss

By Diane Krieger Spivak

Hearing loss is a common occurrence among most people as they age.

Beginning at around age 30 or 40, hearing starts to worsen.  By age 80 more than half of adults in the U.S. experience serious hearing loss, according to hear-it.org, which adds that more than half of all hearing-impaired people are still of working age. Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) usually occurs gradually and is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults.

Age-related hearing loss most often occurs in both ears, affecting them equally, says the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Because the loss is gradual you may not realize it.

Symptoms of hearing loss include problems hearing on the phone or when there is background noise, having trouble following a conversation with two or more people talking at the same time, straining to understand a conversation, feeling people are mumbling, misunderstanding what others are saying, often asking people to repeat themselves or turning up the TV volume too loud for others

Other common causes of hearing loss are working in a noisy environment or entertainment and sports venues such as rock concerts, night clubs or football games. The use of headphones and earbuds on mobile devices are also common causes, especially among younger people.

All of these expose people to excessive decibel (dB) levels, which can temporarily, or permanently, damage hearing.

Sensorineural hearing loss can result from high blood pressure or diabetes, and even measles, mumps or shingles can play a role, as can smoking and certain medications like some chemotherapy drugs.

Conductive hearing loss, typically caused by some obstructions in the ear, are commonly caused by infections, perforation, wax buildup and growths or tumors.

If you experience hearing loss, consult a hearing health professional.

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