Hearing Loss (Gradual)


This is a loss over time of your ability to hear clearly. For most people, hearing loss is a natural part of growing older. It can cause problems with your ability to communicate with others. It can be frustrating for you and for those around you.


Gradual hearing loss is most often linked to the damage of sensitive nerve cells in the cochlea. This is a structure in your inner ear that helps transmit sound signals to your brain. As you age, cells in the cochlea may begin to deteriorate naturally. Heredity may play a role. These cells may also be damaged by repeated exposure to loud noises. And they may be harmed by medications and by conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.


Symptoms include difficulty hearing high-pitched noises. You may have trouble deciphering speech when there is background noise. People may sound muffled when they speak. You may find that you constantly have to ask people to repeat themselves. You may withdraw from conversations because you can't understand what people are saying. You may also find that you need to turn up the volume of the television or radio much louder than others do.


Gradual hearing loss is usually permanent. Treatment options depend on its cause and its severity. You may benefit from a procedure to remove an obstruction or to treat an abnormality interfering with your hearing. You may benefit from devices such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. These can amplify sound and help the signals reach your brain. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.