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Why can’t I hear?

Hearing loss in adults is normally due to natural ageing of the hearing system, which can start as early as in your 40’s. It is usually as common and as non-threatening as gradual deterioration of eyesight.

Other causes, although less common, include genetics (hereditary loss), illness, ototoxic (ear-damaging) drugs, noise exposure, head injury, growths, otosclerosis, or degenerative diseases (such as Ménière’s Disease). Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, often co-occurs with hearing loss.

Children who have hearing loss from a very young age may have been born with the loss, or it may have resulted from complications such as very low birth weight, low oxygen levels, infection, high jaundice levels, or ongoing middle ear disease or eardrum perforation.

It is important to remember that hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. If a temporary hearing loss remains untreated, however, it may cause permanent damage. The sooner a hearing loss is diagnosed and treated (especially if due to a virus), the better – as the progression may be slowed down.

If you suspect your hearing has changed, you should see your doctor or audiologist as soon as possible. Detect changes in your hearing before someone else does; before you miss something important.

All adults over the age of 45 years should have their hearing tested at least every 3 years and from 60 years old hearing must be tested at a minimum of every 2 years.

All children should have their hearing tested at birth, 12 months and then every 3 years after that.


Signs of hearing loss:

  • Hearing “muffled” speech
  • Complaining that people mumble, especially women and children
  • Frequently asking for repetition
  • Answering questions inappropriately because you missed some information
  • Difficulty hearing in background noise
  • Turning the TV or radio up louder than is comfortable for others
  • “Missing” part of the conversation in a group setting
  • Needing to look at the person whilst they are speaking, to understand them
  • Fatigue at the end of the day, from straining to hear throughout the day
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears, dizziness or ear pain