What is hearing loss?

When your hearing is normal, sound waves enter your outer ear and cause your eardrum and middle ear bones to vibrate. The vibrations then travel through your inner ear, which is a shell-shaped, fluid-filled tube called the cochlea. As the fluid moves, it sets in motion thousands of tiny hairs that convert the sound vibrations into auditory nerve signals. Those signals go to your brain where they are turned into sounds you can recognize.


See your doctor as soon as possible because the earlier you get a diagnosis and begin treating hearing loss, the longer you can stay involved in the world around you.

44 million

Americans suffer from hearing loss

People with hearing loss
wait an average of

7 years

before seeking help


1 in 5

people who would benefit from a hearing aid
actually use one

22 million

Americans are exposed to hazardous
noise levels in the workplace

Degrees of hearing impairment

Test Your Hearing

0 - 20(db)

Normal hearing is in the range of 0 to 20 decibels. People with normal hearing are able to make out sounds as faint as human breathing, which measures about 10 decibels.

21 - 40(db)

Mild hearing loss ranges from 21 to 40 decibels.

41 - 55(db)

Moderate hearing loss ranges from 41 to 55 decibels.

56 - 70(db)

Moderately severe hearing loss ranges from 56 to 70 decibels.

71 - 90(db)

Severe hearing loss is in the range of 71 to 90 decibels.

> 90(db)

Profound hearing loss is greater than 90 decibels. People with severe to profound hearing loss will have trouble hearing speech, although they can make out loud sounds like a truck that backfires or an airplane taking off.

Types of hearing loss

Types of hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss

happens because of a problem in the ear canal, eardrum, or the middle ear that prevents sound from carrying well to the inner ear. An ear infection, trauma, a mass (cholesteatoma), fluid, or an object in the ear (such as wax buildup) can cause it.

Sensorineural hearing loss

happens most often from damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. Other causes include damage to the nerve for hearing, called the auditory nerve, or the brain. It usually happens as you get older, but it also can happen because of noise exposure, chemotherapy, radiation, trauma, and your genes. Learn more about what causes sensorineural hearing loss.

Mixed hearing loss

is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. There may be a problem in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear or auditory nerve. It can happen after a head injury, long-term infection, or because of a disorder that runs in your family.


Hearing loss can affect one or both ears. It can happen suddenly or gradually get worse over time. If you notice sudden hearing loss, you should see an ear, nose, and throat specialist as soon as possible.

What are the causes
of hearing loss?

Hearing loss happens when there's a problem with the parts of the ear that you use to hear. Any of these conditions can lead to severe hearing loss:


Age-related hearing loss is a common problem as people get older. This is because some parts of the ear become less elastic and the tiny hairs in the ear become damaged. This can make it difficult for the ear to respond to sound waves, and hearing loss can worsen over time.

Loud noises

Loud noises can also cause hearing loss. For example, exposure to the blare of power tools, airplanes, or loud music on headphones can damage the hair cells in the cochlea. The degree of hearing loss that occurs depends on the volume of the sound and how long you were exposed to it. It is important to be aware of the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

Ear infections

Ear infections can lead to hearing loss when fluid builds up in the middle ear. Typically, this hearing loss is mild and goes away after a short time. However, if left untreated, ear infections can lead to more serious long-term problems.

Perforated eardrum

A perforated eardrum can cause hearing loss as well. This can result from an ear infection, exposure to loud sounds, trauma, or intense pressure in the ear from flying in an airplane or scuba diving. Depending on the size of the hole, hearing loss may be mild or moderate.


Cholesteatoma is another condition that can lead to hearing loss. It is a collection of skin that can develop in the middle ear when the eardrum collapses or when skin grows through a hole in the eardrum. Over time, cholesteatomas can grow and destroy the middle ear bones, and in rare cases, the inner ear.


Illnesses or infections can lead to hearing loss. Measles, mumps, syphilis, and meningitis are among the many conditions that can cause this.

Meniere’s disease

Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that can cause hearing loss. Its symptoms include dizziness, ringing in the ear, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Hearing loss in Meniere’s disease typically affects only one ear and tends to get worse over time.


Tumors can also cause severe hearing loss. Acoustic neuroma, paraganglioma, and meningioma are some examples of tumors that can impact hearing. People who have these tumors may experience numbness in their face, weakness, and ringing in their ear.

Stuck object

An object lodged in the ear can block hearing. This could be something as simple as earwax buildup that has hardened and is causing hearing difficulties.

Malformed ear

Some people are born with poorly formed ears.


Trauma, such as a skull fracture or punctured eardrum, can also cause severe hearing loss.


Certain medications, such as certain antibiotics, high doses of aspirin, chemotherapy drugs (carboplatin, cisplatin), and large amounts of Vicodin, can cause permanent hearing loss. However, hearing may return once you stop taking the drug. Moreover, other drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen (in large quantities), loop diuretics, and anti-malaria drugs like quinine can cause temporary hearing loss.


Genes can make people more prone to severe hearing loss, especially as they age. Newborn screening tests can detect genetic hearing loss, but it can also show up later in life.

Autoimmune disorders

Hearing loss may be associated with autoimmune disorders. Disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Cogan's syndrome, Wegener's granulomatosis, and Behcet's disease can affect hearing. It is one of the primary characteristics of these disorders.

Treatment Options for Hearing Loss

Several treatment options are available for hearing loss, ranging from dietary supplements to medical treatment to listening devices. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of hearing loss so please see your doctor for an official diagnosis to find the right treatment for you. (UCSFHealth.org)

Dietary Supplements

Many causes of hearing loss can be traced back to a lack of essential vitamins and nutrients in your diet. Supplementing your diet with richly packed formulas containing clinically backed ingredients can be a way to prevent hearing loss from getting worse and in some cases optimize auditory functioning. Some of the key ingredients used today are L Methyl Folate, Bioflavonoids, Vitamin B Complex, and Ginkgo Biloba for their unique benefits for the inner ear and nerves.

To learn more about the ingredients and science behind our Advanced Hearing Support supplement go to our Science page.

Medical Treatments

Medical treatment, including medications and surgery, is recommended for many types of hearing problems, particularly conductive hearing loss (middle ear). However, even if medical treatment is not necessary for your type of hearing loss, we highly recommend a visit to an audiologist for both a definite diagnosis of the type of hearing loss and treatment advice.

Some of the most common causes of conductive hearing loss are fluid in the middle ear, with or without infection, and earwax blocking the ear canal. In cases where there is a bacterial infection of the middle ear, antibiotics are often used. Although these conditions often can be diagnosed and treated by a primary care doctor, persistent problems may require the care of an ear specialist. Conductive hearing loss also may be caused by a problem with the bones of the middle ear, which, in many cases, can be treated with surgery.

Hearing Aids

If diagnosed with hearing loss that cannot be treated medically, a doctor will likely recommend a hearing aid evaluation and consultation with an audiologist. This consultation appointment will help determine which hearing aids or other assistive listening devices would be most appropriate for you.

Hearing Support

Hearing loss?

Lipo Flavonoid Hearing Support is a unique science-based formula with ingredients clinically shown to promote optimal hearing, reduce the risk of future hearing decline and help preserve healthy hearing*

Learn more

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

*Survey data on file


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