Old man trying to listen

What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment, which can be temporary or permanent. In children hearing problems can affect the ability to learn language and in adults it can cause work related difficulties. Hearing loss may be caused by a number of factors, including: genetics, ageing, exposure to noise, some infections, birth complications, trauma to the ear, and certain medications or toxins.

A common condition that results in hearing loss is chronic ear infections. Certain infections during pregnancy may also cause problems. Hearing loss is diagnosed when hearing testing finds that a person is unable to hear 25 decibels in at least one ear. Testing for poor hearing is recommended for all newborns. Hearing loss can be categorized as mild, moderate, severe, or profound.

What are the treatments?

Half of hearing loss is preventable. This includes by immunization, proper care around pregnancy, avoiding loud noise, and avoiding certain medications. For many hearing aids, sign language, cochlear implants and subtitles are useful. Lip reading is another useful skill some develop. Access to hearing aids, however, is limited due to cost.

Hearing Loss affects about 1.1 billion people to some degree. It causes disability in 5% (360 to 538 million) and moderate to severe disability in 124 million people. Of those with moderate to severe disability 108 million live in low and middle income. Of those with hearing loss it began in 65 million during childhood.

Doctor putting a hearing aid on a girl