Age-related hearing loss is often categorized as mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Having a mild hearing loss means that you will have trouble hearing and understanding soft sounds, sounds from a distance or speech against a background of noise. People with a moderate hearing loss will find it difficult to hear regular speech, even at close distances.
Age-related hearing loss can occur gradually as you grow older. It is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly people. Age-related hearing loss most often occurs in both ears and because the loss is gradual, you may not even realize that you have lost some of your ability to hear.
It can be difficult to distinguish age-related hearing loss from hearing loss that can occur for other reasons. There may be more than one cause that contributes to a person’s hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by long-term exposure to sounds that are too loud or last too long. This can damage the sensory hair cells in your ear that allow you to hear. Once these hair cells are damaged, they do not grow back and your ability to hear is diminished.
Conditions that are more common in older people, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, can contribute to hearing loss. Medications that are toxic to the sensory cells in your ears (for example, some chemotherapy drugs) can also cause hearing loss.