Hearing Loss

What Are the Most Common Causes of Hearing Loss?

The most common form of hearing loss is presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss. This hearing loss occurs as a result of natural changes in the inner ear of an individual over time. Hearing loss typically affects both ears, and it develops so gradually that many are unaware of it occurring. An estimated one-third of adults aged 64 or older experience presbycusis.

A couple laughing together under a tree in fall

However, other factors that can contribute to hearing loss, include:

  • Benign growths
  • Constant, cumulative noise exposure
  • Ear infections
  • Ear or head trauma
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Genetics
  • High blood pressure or other vascular conditions
  • Otosclerosis
  • Side effects of some medications

What Are the Symptoms of Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss isn’t always easy to detect. Your brain learns to adapt and because hearing loss develops so gradually, you may be unaware of it occurring.

A person smiling outdoors

Symptoms of hearing loss may include:

  • The perception that others are mumbling or not speaking clearly
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Experiencing tinnitus in the ear(s)
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear(s)
  • Listening to the t.v. at a higher volume than others find comfortable
  • Unable to hear every day sounds (e.g., directional blinker, etc.)
  • Trouble following conversations in background noise
  • “Checking out” or socially withdrawing in large group settings
  • Difficulty hearing when not facing the speaker
  • Trouble understanding every word in conversation
  • Telephone conversations are difficult to follow
  • Others accuse you of speaking too loudly
  • Responding incongruously to a question or situation at hand

Regular hearing tests can detect problems early before they worsen.

What Are the Different Types of Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss is divided into three separate categories:


Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the result of damage to the inner ear nerves.
  • Presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), noise-induced hearing loss, and single sided deafness (SSD) fall into this category.
  • Additional causes of sensorineural hearing loss include trauma, viruses, Meniere’s disease, malformation of the inner ear and benign tumors called acoustic schwannomas.


Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is the result of problems with the outer or middle ear.
  • There are a variety of causes including structural deformities, ear infections, allergies, impacted earwax, foreign objects in the ear canal, otosclerosis, perforated eardrums and poor Eustachian tube function.
  • Conductive hearing loss may be resolved with surgery or medication. Please see a board-certified otolaryngologist.


Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of the other two types.
  • Individuals with this type of hearing loss have damage to their outer or middle ear as well as their inner ear or auditory nerve.
A health care provider inspecting a patient's ear

How Is Hearing Loss Treated?

Hearing loss is treated with hearing aids. Hearing aids are FDA-regulated medical devices. Hearing loss is a medical condition. A medical condition should therefore be treated with a medical device and fit after thorough evaluation by a medical professional who treats hearing loss – an audiologist. Please call Massachusetts Hearing Group at (978) 256-3219 or Nashua Hearing Group at (603) 594-3024 for more information or to schedule an appointment.