Home | Donate | Careers | Contact Us | Physicians | 1.888.STJOES1
St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center

Health Library

Espanol Library Multimedia Healthy Living Your Family Interactive Tools
Back to Encyclopedia

Hearing Loss

What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss is a medical disorder that affects nearly 36 million adults in the United States. Many things can cause impaired hearing. Conditions that contribute to hearing loss include tinnitus, presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), and hereditary causes, among others. Older people are the largest group affected by hearing loss. The contributors range from excessive noise, drugs, viral or bacterial infections, head injury or head tumors, stroke, and heredity. One in 3 older adults over age 60 has hearing loss. Nearly half of people ages 75 to 85 have hearing loss.

Treatment for hearing loss

In some people, hearing loss can be surgically corrected. For others, medical devices and rehabilitation therapies often can help reduce hearing loss.

To determine the exact cause of your hearing loss, and how it can be managed, contact your healthcare provider for a complete medical exam. If you think you have hearing loss, answer these questions suggested by the National Institutes of Health:

  • Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?

  • Do you have trouble following the conversation when 2 or more people are talking at the same time?

  • Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?

  • Do you have to strain to understand conversation?

  • Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?

  • Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?

  • Do many people you talk to seem to mumble or not speak clearly?

  • Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?

  • Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?

  • Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?

  • Do you hear a ringing, roaring, or hissing sound a lot?   

If you answered yes to 3 or more of these questions, you may want to see an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist), or an audiologist for a hearing evaluation.