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All About Hearing Loss

Hearing Is Thinking

It is your ears that collect the sound, but it is the brain that actually understands it​

Do you ever notice.....

  • People keep mumbling?

  • You miss the point of the stories?

  • Your TV is loud and still struggling to hear the clarity?

  • Listening takes more effort?

  • Conversations are hard to follow?

Do you ever feel....

  • Tired/stressed from socialising?

  • Confused about conversations?

  • Or do you feel that you would prefer to stay at home?

  • Get frustrated and anxiety due to hearing difficulties

Old man sitting in a chair looking out of the window
A Group Of Friends Gathering outside

The Consequences
Of Untreated Hearing Loss

Because hearing is a mental process, untreated or poorly treated hearing loss can lead to negative consequences for your brain.
For your brain to work in the way it is meant to, it needs the full sound perspective.  If the brain’s access to sound is limited—such as by inadequate treatment of hearing loss—it can lead to serious problems in life:

Social isolation and depression

People with untreated hearing loss may reach a stage where they avoid social gatherings because they are unable to cope with complex sound environments. This increases the risk of loneliness, social isolation and depression.

Cognitive Overload

Cognitive Overload: Straining to hear and understand speech can lead to cognitive overload, fatigue, and reduced memory performance. This is because more cognitive resources are dedicated to processing sound, leaving fewer resources for other cognitive functions.

Accelerated cognitive decline
Increased mental load, lack of stimulation, and reorganised brain functionality are linked to accelerated cognitive decline, which affects your ability to remember, learn, concentrate and make decisions

Poor balance and fall-related injuries

Untreated hearing loss can affect people’s balance, which increases the risk of fall-related Injuries three-fold

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
The risk for dementia is increased five-fold for severe-to-profound hearing loss, three-fold for moderate hearing loss and two-fold for mild hearing loss.

Causes Of Hearing Loss

Age Related Hearing Loss (Presbyacusis)

This is a common form of hearing loss in older adults, occurring gradually as a person ages.  It is caused by changes in the inner ear and auditory nerve as part of the aging process, often influenced by genetic factors, long-term noise exposure, and overall health conditions such as cardiovascular disease. As Presbycusis typically affects both ears and progresses gradually, so it might not be immediately noticeable. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it's important to consult a healthcare provider or an audiologist for a hearing evaluation and potential treatment options.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss:


Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a type of hearing impairment that results from exposure to loud noise, either from a one-time exposure to an intense sound or from repeated exposure to high levels of noise over time. Symptoms can include difficulty understanding speech, especially In noisy environments, ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus), and a need to increase the volume on electronic devices. NIHL can affect anyone at any age, and it may be temporary or permanent, depending on the intensity and duration of noise exposure. Prevention is key, and seeking advice sooner rather than later.


Head Injury Related Hearing Loss

An accident or trauma to your head or ear can also cause hearing loss. This usually happens because a blow to the head can cause damage to the inner or outer ear structures. Even injuries as minor as a concussion can result in hearing loss, which is why it’s so important for people of any age to seek medical treatment after a head injury.  Tumours can also cause hearing loss symptoms, like tinnitus or feelings of fullness in one or both ears. Sometimes tumors can be treated surgically, but permanent hearing damage may remain.

Hereditary Hearing Loss


Some types of hearing loss are genetic and inherited from a parent. Hereditary hearing loss can be either sensorineural or conductive. Most genetic types of hearing loss present at birth, but some may also develop over time. 

  • Sensorineural hearing loss involves damage to the inner ear hair cells or the auditory nerve, and can be caused by things like aging, certain viruses and loud noises.
  • ​Conductive hearing loss involves obstructions or damage to the outer and middle ear or ear canal. This type of hearing loss can be caused by malformations, perforated eardrums, infections or benign tumour's.                                                                                                                   


Drug & Illness Related Hearing Loss

There are several types of illnesses and medications that can contribute to or trigger hearing loss​

  • ​Infections of the middle ear can cause hearing loss, either temporary or permanent. 

  • Meniere’s disease is also associated with hearing loss, as is the condition otosclerosis.

  • Some drugs, known as ototoxic drugs, are associated with hearing loss. These include large doses of aminoglycoside antibiotics, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and chemotherapy drugs.

Types Of Hearing Loss

A picture of the human ear
A picture of the cochlea

Outer & Middle Ear Hearing Loss (Conductive)

Conductive hearing loss is caused by problems in the outer and middle ear, which can prevent sounds getting through to the inner ear. The most common cause can be a build-up of wax in the ear canal, perforated eardrums, fluid in the middle ear, or damaged or defective middle ear bones (ossicles).

Inner Ear Hearing Loss (Sensorineural)

This type of hearing loss happens when the delicate nerve fibers in the inner ear get damaged. This stops them transmitting sound properly. It can be caused by excessive exposure to noise, but the most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are the natural processes of aging. For some the sensory cells wear out already at the age of 50 whereas others have only negligible hearing loss even at the age of 80. This condition is permanent in most cases.

Mixed Hearing Loss (Sensorineural)

Sometimes people have a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. The impact of a mixed hearing loss is to impede transmission of sound vis the external/middle ear to an already damaged inner ear.  Treatment usually involves medical or surgical treatment the outer and middle ear components and strategies for those sensorineural hearing loss

How Hearing Loss Differs From Eye Sight

A representation of a sight chart showing a person with visual problems

Visual Impairment

A representation of how normal hearing looks using a sight chart

Normal Hearing

A representation of how a hearing loss looks using a sight chart

Hearing Impairment

As with the eye, the ear's performance is affected by aging. Poor vision gradually makes reading harder as the letters get smaller. The process of losing your hearing is more complex.

Above (from Oticon) illustrates how hearing loss can make certain syllables and sounds harder to hear. With hearing loss, high-pitched constants like f, s and t are easily drowned out by louder, low-pitched vowels like a, o and u. As a result, the person with hearing loss complains they can hear when others are talking, but not understand what they're saying.

Hearing & Health

Hearing loss is not just an isolated condition affecting one's ability to hear; it can also be associated with a variety of other health issues.  Cognitive decline and Dementia are not the only health issues associated with hearing loss, researchers also have associated the following:

  • Mental Health Issues: Hearing loss can lead to social isolation, anxiety, and depression.

  • Cardiovascular Disease: Some research suggests a link between hearing loss and cardiovascular disease.

  • Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes are more likely to experience hearing loss in a similar way that this affects the eyes and kidneys

  • Tinnitus:  This can affect one's quality of life.

  • Sleep Disturbances: Hearing loss can interfere with sleep quality which could been related to the stress and anxiety caused by the hearing loss itself.

It's important to address hearing loss early and seek treatment, not only to improve hearing but also to mitigate these associated risks.



Hearing loss can happen for a variety of reasons, and it can happen to people just like you. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the cause of your hearing loss greatly determines the course of treatment available. If you think you have hearing loss – or haven’t had your hearing tested in a while – why not schedule an appointment today with a local hearing care professional?

Get treatment for your symptoms

The link between Hearing Loss, Dementia,
and Cognitive Decline

Hearing loss and cognitive decline are conditions that often intersect, affecting a significant number of individuals, especially as they age. Recent research suggests that those with hearing loss may have a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Understanding this relationship is crucial for patients and their families as they navigate the challenges associated with these conditions.

The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Health

Hearing loss can lead to social isolation, depression, and anxiety, which are risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia. When individuals struggle to hear, they may find social situations frustrating and exhausting, leading to withdrawal from activities and interactions that stimulate the brain. This isolation can accelerate cognitive decline.

Moreover, the effort to decode sounds overloads the brain in those with hearing loss, leaving less cognitive resources available for memory, thinking, and planning. This cognitive overload can contribute to the development of dementia.

Recognising the Symptoms

It's essential to recognise the early signs of cognitive decline and dementia, especially in individuals with hearing loss. These can include:

  • Difficulty following conversations, particularly in noisy environments

  • Increasing forgetfulness or misplacing items regularly

  • Changes in mood or behaviour, such as withdrawal from social activities

  • Challenges with problem-solving or planning

  • Confusion with time or place

Early detection and intervention can significantly impact the management of both hearing loss and cognitive decline, potentially slowing the progression of these conditions.

Strategies for Management and Support

  • Hearing Interventions: Utilising hearing aids or other assistive listening devices can improve quality of life and may


      help slow decline. Regular hearing evaluations and keeping

      communication devices properly adjusted are crucial steps.

  • Cognitive Activities: Engaging in activities that stimulate the brain, such as puzzles, reading, and hobbies, can help maintain cognitive function.

  • Social Engagement: Encouraging participation in social activities and maintaining relationships can combat isolation and its negative effects on cognitive health.

  • Professional Support: Consulting healthcare professionals who specialise in hearing loss and cognitive decline can provide tailored strategies for managing these conditions. This may include audiologists, neurologists, and occupational therapists.

  • Family and Caregiver Support: Education and support for families and caregivers are vital. Understanding the challenges of hearing loss and cognitive decline can foster a more supportive environment for the individual affected.


While the link between hearing loss, dementia, and cognitive decline presents challenges, awareness and proactive management can make a significant difference in the lives of those affected. By addressing hearing loss early and adopting strategies to support cognitive health, individuals can enjoy a better quality of life and maintain their independence for longer.

We encourage patients and their families to seek support from healthcare professionals and advocacy organizations dedicated to helping those with hearing loss and cognitive decline. Together, we can navigate these challenges with compassion, understanding, and effective care.

Communication Tips (for people with hearing loss)

  • Be Open: tell people that you have a hearing loss

  • Ask people to get your attention before they speak

  • Get a better view: Stand a reasonable distance from the person so that you can see their face and lips. Gestures and facial expressions will help you to understand what they are saying

  • If necessary, ask people to slow down and  speak more clearly

  • If you don't catch what people says, just ask them to say it again in a different way

  • Keep calm: if you get anxious, you may find it harder to follow what people says

  • Play to your strengths:  If your hearing is better in one ear try turning your head towards the person speaking to you.

  • Learn to lip read: Everyone does this a bit, especially in noisy situations

  • Be kind to yourself! No one hears correctly all the time

two people shaking hands
A picture of a ear with a out of order sign hanging from it

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